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Wind power and biomass dominate projected increases in U.S. renewable energy generation, excluding hydropower, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration's (EIA) Annual Energy Outlook 2012 Early Release Reference case.

In the EIA's outlook, increased generation from non-hydro renewable energy resources in the electric power sector accounts for 33% of the overall growth in electricity generation from 2010 to 2035. The non-hydro renewable energy share of the total generation in the projection increases from 4% in 2010 to 9% in 2035.

The reference case assumes implementation of current laws and regulations as specified, including the scheduled expiration of some tax credits at the end of this year. Wind generation nearly doubles between 2010 and 2035, but the growth slows following the expiration of the production tax credit (PTC).

However, a key uncertainty in the projections for non-hydro renewables is whether states will strictly enforce their renewable portfolio standard (RPS) requirements, particularly if the current federal tax credits that make RPS compliance less costly for consumers are not extended.

Near-term growth in many renewable energy technology types is largely used to satisfy state-level RPS requirements, the EIA notes. However, over the long term, renewable technologies may continue to be built as they become increasingly competitive with other electricity generation options.


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