Electrification, also known as energy conversion, refers to the transition across all economic sectors to electricity-powered end-use technologies. For example, the transition from diesel to electricity-powered battery buses, or the shift to air-source heat pumps and heat pump water heaters.

This long-term trend means that electricity will start to power more of our everyday products across the transportation, building, and industrial sectors. The Electricity Power Research Institute (EPRI) estimates that energy efficient electrification could boost U.S. electricity demand up to 52% from a 2015 baseline by 2050. This offers growth opportunities for American wind power to provide more clean, low-cost power to consumers. 

Electricity Portion of Final Energy in 2015 and 2050 chart

Source: Electric Power Research Institute

The transition to electric vehicles (EV) is one of the largest potential areas for electrification. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) estimates the U.S. could have as many as 240 million light-duty electric cars and trucks on the road by 2050. Importantly, EV buyers are more likely to be interested in the source of their electricity and are more likely to support renewable energy integration. Should EV expansion be coupled with new wind capacity additions and transmission investments, Americans could see positive economic and environmental benefits in the form of increased reliability, stable prices, and reduced carbon pollution.

Wind power pairs especially well with transportation electrification. EV users tend to charge their vehicles most often late at night, when wind generation is strong. The introduction of common sense policies like time-of-use (TOU) rates can further incentivize consumers to charge EVs when electricity prices are low and renewable energy generation is high. Smart electrification programs recognize the benefits that come from pairing transportation electrification with wind capacity additions, transmission investments, and effective rate structures at the same time.

Even the most conservative estimates suggest that electrification will present new opportunities for wind growth, as the country seeks solutions for meeting higher electricity demand in the long term.

Electric sector generation mix over time by technology and scenario chart

Source: National Renewable Energy Laboratory