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Short-Term Energy Outlook

Release Date: November 12, 2014  |  Next Release Date: December 9, 2014  |  Full Report    |   Text Only   |   All Tables   |   All Figures

Renewables and CO2 Emissions

California's drought, which began in 2011, has significantly limited hydropower, requiring generation from other sources to make up for the shortfall. While the drought's effect on hydropower generation is most noticeable in California, the western United States as a whole has experienced a decline. Conventional hydropower, which is seasonal and typically peaks in the late spring and early summer, contributed 40% of electric power generation in the western United States in May 2011. That monthly maximum has steadily declined each year since. In May 2014, the maximum monthly contribution to western generation by the electric power sector from hydropower was 30%.

Electricity and Heat Generation from Renewables

EIA projects that total renewables used for electricity and heat generation will grow by 1.8% in 2014. Conventional hydropower generation is projected to fall by 4.2%, while nonhydropower renewables rise by 5.1%. Nonhydropower renewables generation surpasses hydropower on an annual basis for the first time in 2014. In 2015, total renewables consumption for electric power and heat generation increases by 4.5% as a result of a 4.2% increase in hydropower and a 4.6% increase in nonhydropower renewables.

EIA projects that wind power capacity will increase by 7.6% in 2014 and 17.8% in 2015. Electricity generation from wind is projected to contribute 4.7% of total electricity generation in 2015.

EIA expects continued robust growth in utility-scale solar power generation to an average of more than 60 gigawatthours per day in 2015, although this remains a small share (0.6%) of total U.S. generation. While solar growth has historically been concentrated in customer-sited distributed generation installations, utility-scale solar capacity slightly more than doubled in 2013. EIA expects that utility-scale solar capacity will nearly double again between the end of 2013 and the end of 2015; about two-thirds of this new capacity is being built in California. However, customer-sited photovoltaic capacity growth, which the STEO does not forecast, is expected to exceed utility-scale solar growth between 2013 and 2015, according to EIA's Annual Energy Outlook 2014.

Liquid Biofuels

Ethanol production in June matched the monthly average production record of 959,000 bbl/d set in December 2011, and then fell back to an estimated average of 911,000 bbl/d in October. EIA expects ethanol production to average 927,000 bbl/d in 2014 and 934,000 bbl/d in 2015. Biodiesel production averaged 89,000 bbl/d in 2013 and is forecast to average 80,000 bbl/d in 2014 and 84,000 bbl/d in 2015.

Energy-Related Carbon Dioxide Emissions

EIA estimates that carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels increased by 2.5% in 2013 from the previous year. Emissions are forecast to rise by 1.0% in 2014, primarily because of cold weather early in the year, and then to decline by 0.1% in 2015. The increase in total emissions in 2013 and 2014 reflects increases in emissions from coal of 4.2% and 1.2%, respectively. The price of natural gas to electric power generators was $0.91/MMBtu above its 2012 level in 2013 and is expected to rise by $0.83/MMBtu in 2014, contributing to an increase in coal use. Coal emissions are projected to decline by 1.0% in 2015.

U.S. Renewables & CO2 Emissions Summary
  2012 2013 2014 2015
a Conventional hydroelectric power only. Hydroelectricity generated by pumped storage is not included in renewable energy.
U.S. Renewables Consumption (quadrillion Btu)
Hydroelectric Powera 2.629 2.561 2.453 2.556
Geothermal 0.212 0.221 0.219 0.223
Solar 0.227 0.307 0.417 0.519
Wind 1.339 1.595 1.702 1.846
Wood Biomass 2.010 2.138 2.164 2.123
Ethanol 1.092 1.120 1.130 1.123
Biodiesel 0.117 0.205 0.191 0.196
Waste Biomass 0.467 0.476 0.478 0.492
Total 8.093 8.622 8.775 9.078
Carbon Dioxide Emissions by Fuel (million metric tons)
Petroleum and Other Liquid Fuels 2240 2272 2274 2285
Natural Gas 1362 1391 1422 1421
Coal 1653 1722 1743 1726
Total Fossil Fuels 5255 5385 5439 5431

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