WASHINGTON May 27 (Reuters) - Renewable energy will be the world's fastest growing source of electricity generation over the next two decades, although it will still make up a relatively small portion of the global energy supply, the U.S. government's top energy forecasting agency said Wednesday.
Global renewable electricity generation is set to rise by an average of 2.9 percent per year from 2006 to 2030, increasing from 19 percent of supply in 2006 to 21 percent by 2030, the Energy Information Administration said in its annual international energy outlook.
The EIA said the growth in renewable energy production will be supported by "the expected high prices for fossil fuels and by government incentives for the development of alternative energy sources."
The majority of that increase will come from the use of wind power and hydropower. Aside from those two sources, other renewable energy technologies such as solar power will not be "economically competitive with fossil fuels over the projection period, outside a limited number of niche markets," the agency reported.
In developing countries including China, India, and Vietnam, renewable energy output will increase predominantly through hydropower with mid- to large scale hydroelectric plants expected to be completed. Wind and biomass will lead the increase in renewable power in developed nations, however.
Despite the boost in renewable power, EIA said coal and natural gas still supply nearly two-thirds of world's electricity in 2030.
The EIA's projections are based on current laws and policies and do not reflect any possible new U.S. legislation or global agreements that could have a substantial impact on energy production.
Last week a key House panel approved a bill, that if it became law, would cap U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Such legislation could greatly affect coal power plants, which are big carbon dioxide emitters.
The bill would also mandate power plants generate a certain amount of electricity from renewable sources. The U.S. Senate is also considering similar renewable power legislation. (Reporting by Ayesha Rascoe)
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