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Analysis & Projections

Wind and Solar Data Projections from the U.S. Energy Information Administration: Past Performance and Planned Enhancements

Release date: March 22, 2016


EIA's data for renewable electricity, in particular wind and solar generators, are one of the largest areas of interest among EIA data users, as well as one of the more frequent targets of criticism. Although particular details vary from source to source, several critiques have involved claims along the following lines:

  • EIA data do not accurately track wind and solar generation or capacity, particularly distributed solar photovoltaics (PV)
  • EIA projections "consistently" and "significantly" underestimate additions of wind and solar capacity
  • EIA estimates for the cost of renewable capacity such as wind and solar are out-of-date and not representative of current market costs

In an effort to improve EIA's approach to providing accurate, comprehensive data, and useful projections for policy analysis, EIA has conducted a review of its historical data and projections of capacity, generation, and cost projections for wind and solar technologies. While EIA's internal processes and engagement with stakeholders are both continuing, this paper shares some early findings of EIA's current review of our wind and solar data and projections, focusing in part on some of the issues that have been publicly raised by EIA's critics.

The report addresses historical data and capacity and generation projections in the context of changing renewable energy markets, and addresses how EIA is responding to these evolving markets. A more detailed review of past EIA capacity and generation projections, and of actual and projected technology costs for both wind and solar is provided in the Appendix.


See complete report