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Short-Term Energy Outlook

Release Date: March 10, 2015  |  Next Release Date: April 7, 2015  |  Full Report    |   Text Only   |   All Tables   |   All Figures

Renewables and CO2 Emissions

Electricity and Heat Generation from Renewables

EIA projects that total renewables used for electricity and heat generation will grow by 2.9% in 2015. Conventional hydropower generation increases by 6.0%, while nonhydropower renewables generation increases by 1.4%. In 2016, total renewables consumption for electric power and heat generation increases by 1.8% as a result of a 3.6% decline in hydropower and a 4.6% increase in nonhydropower renewables.

Wind is the largest source of nonhydropower renewable generation, and it is projected to contribute 5.0% of total electricity generation in 2016. In 2014, wind generation produced more than 10% of total ERCOT electricity generation (most of Texas), which represented 20% of total U.S. wind generation.

EIA expects continued growth in utility-scale solar power generation, which is projected to average 74 gigawatthours (GWh) per day in 2016. Despite this growth, utility-scale solar power averages only 0.6% of total U.S. electricity generation in 2016. Although solar growth has historically been concentrated in customer-sited distributed generation installations, EIA expects that utility-scale solar capacity will increase by more than 60% between the end of 2014 and the end of 2016, with about half of this new capacity being built in California. Wind capacity, which grew by 7.6% in 2014, is forecast to increase by 11.4% in 2015 and by another 11.0% in 2016. Because wind is starting from a much larger base than solar, even though the growth rate is lower, the absolute amount of the increase in capacity is more than twice that of solar: 15 GW of wind compared with 6 GW of utility-scale solar between 2014 and 2016.

Liquid Biofuels

After reaching a record monthly average of 1,002,000 bbl/d in December 2014, ethanol production in February 2015 is estimated to have fallen to an average of 948,000 bbl/d. Ethanol production averaged 935,000 bbl/d in 2014, and EIA expects it to average 947,000 bbl/d in 2015 and 942,000 bbl/d in 2016. Biodiesel production averaged an estimated 83,000 bbl/d in 2014 and is forecast to average 84,000 bbl/d in both 2015 and 2016.

Energy-Related Carbon Dioxide Emissions

EIA estimates that emissions grew 1.0% in 2014. Emissions are forecast to increase by 0.2% in 2015 and by 0.3% in 2016. These forecasts are sensitive to both weather and economic assumptions.

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.
U.S. Renewables Consumption (quadrillion Btu)
Hydroelectric Powera 2.561 2.462 2.611 2.516
Geothermal 0.221 0.219 0.219 0.219
Solar 0.307 0.427 0.516 0.562
Wind 1.596 1.729 1.821 2.006
Wood Biomass 2.138 2.173 2.056 2.057
Ethanol 1.090 1.109 1.107 1.103
Biodiesel 0.205 0.196 0.198 0.196
Waste Biomass 0.476 0.470 0.476 0.480
Total 9.321 9.593 9.802 9.928
Carbon Dioxide Emissions by Fuel (million metric tons)
Petroleum and Other Liquid Fuels 2231 2250 2269 2279
Natural Gas 1399 1434 1476 1489
Coal 1721 1721 1670 1665
Total Fossil Fuels 5351 5405 5415 5432

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