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Wind farm powering a data center Image: Bloomberg

AI Driving US Power Growth Forecast by 81%, NextEra Says

The renewables giant has developed a system to identify new data center locations based on solar and wind resources.

(Bloomberg) -- The biggest US wind and solar farm developer expects the growth rate of the demand for electricity to soar to keep up with artificial intelligence, electrification, cloud capacity, and chip factories.

“What you have today is electric demand that has been relatively flat for years now all of the sudden looking at an 81% increase” in the growth rate forecast over the next five years, John Ketchum, chief executive officer of renewables giant NextEra Energy, said Monday at CERAWeek by S&P Global conference Monday.

About a year ago, the US Energy Information Administration estimated the annual growth rate in electricity demand at less than 1% in its long-term annual outlook. NextEra’s estimate would accelerate that to about 1.8%.

The sharp increase in growth rate risks adding further stress to power grids already strained by extreme temperatures and the effects of climate change.

Renewable generation is expected to increase threefold or more – to 370 to 450 gigawatts, according to Ketchum. To try to satisfy this demand, NextEra has developed a system to identify locations for new data centers based on solar and wind resources and access to transmission lines.

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