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Short-Term Energy Outlook

Release Date: November 10, 2015  |  Next Release Date: December 8, 2015  |  Full Report    |   Text Only   |   All Tables   |   All Figures

Renewables and CO2 Emissions

Electricity and Heat Generation from Renewables

EIA expects total renewables used in the electric power sector to decrease by 2.0% in 2015. Hydropower generation is forecast to decrease by 8.6%, and nonhydropower renewable power generation is forecast to increase by 4.4%. The 2015 decrease in hydropower generation reflects the effects of the California drought. Forecast hydropower generation in the electric power sector increases by 7.0% in 2016.

EIA expects continued growth in utility-scale solar power generation, which is projected to average 90 gigawatthours per day (GWh/d) in 2016. Because the growth is from a small base, utility-scale solar power averages 0.8% of total U.S. electricity generation in 2016. Although solar growth has historically been concentrated in customer-sited distributed generation installations (rooftop panels), EIA expects utility-scale solar capacity will increase by 118% (12 GW) between the end of 2014 and the end of 2016, with 4.6 GW of new capacity being built in California. Other leading states in utility-scale solar capacity include North Carolina and Nevada, which, combined with California, account for about two-thirds of the projected utility-scale capacity additions for 2015 and 2016.

Wind capacity, which starts from a significantly larger installed capacity base than solar, grew by 8% in 2014, and is forecast to increase by 13% in 2015 and 14% in 2016.

Liquid Biofuels

On May 29, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed a rule setting Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) volumes for 2014 through 2016. Although these volumes could be modified before the final rule is issued, the proposed rules are used to develop the current STEO forecast. Ethanol production, which averaged 934,000 b/d in 2014, is forecast to average more than 950,000 b/d in both 2015 and 2016. Ethanol consumption, which averaged 877,000 b/d in 2014, is forecast to average slightly more than 900,000 b/d in both 2015 and 2016, resulting in an average 9.9% ethanol share of the total gasoline pool. EIA does not expect significant increases in E15 or E85 consumption over the forecast period.

EIA expects the largest effect of the proposed RFS targets will be on biodiesel consumption, which contributes to meeting the biomass-based diesel, advanced biofuel, and total renewable fuel RFS targets. Biodiesel production averaged 83,000 b/d in 2014 and is forecast to average 91,000 b/d in 2015 and 98,000 b/d in 2016. Net imports of biomass-based diesel are also expected to increase from 15,000 b/d in 2014 to 26,000 b/d in 2015, and to 35,000 b/d in 2016.

Energy-Related Carbon Dioxide Emissions

EIA estimates that emissions of CO2 grew by 0.9% in 2014. Emissions are projected to fall by 0.9% in 2015 and then increase by 0.3% in 2016. These forecasts are sensitive to assumptions about weather and economic growth.

U.S. Renewables & CO2 Emissions Summary
  2013 2014 2015 2016
a Conventional hydroelectric power only. Hydroelectricity generated by pumped storage is not included in renewable energy.
b Includes electricity and heat generation
c Other renewables includes biofuels production losses and co-products
U.S. Renewables Consumption (quadrillion Btu)
Geothermal 0.214 0.222 0.226 0.236
Hydropowera 2.562 2.469 2.257 2.415
Solar 0.305 0.427 0.522 0.624
Waste Biomass 0.496 0.488 0.494 0.502
Wind 1.596 1.729 1.765 2.042
Wood Biomass 2.170 2.214 2.041 1.980
Electricity Subtotalb 7.344 7.541 7.303 7.792
Biomass-based Diesel 0.205 0.198 0.222 0.261
Ethanol 1.090 1.107 1.141 1.144
Biofuels Subtotal 1.296 1.305 1.360 1.405
Otherc 0.709 0.757 0.768 0.772
Total 9.349 9.603 9.432 9.970
Carbon Dioxide Emissions by Fuel (million metric tons)
Petroleum and Other Liquid Fuels 2231 2252 2288 2295
Natural Gas 1400 1434 1497 1511
Coal 1718 1713 1566 1565
Total Fossil Fuels 5349 5399 5352 5370

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