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Short-Term Energy Outlook

Release Date: February 10, 2015  |  Next Release Date: March 10, 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 3.8% in 2015. Conventional hydropower generation increases by 5.7%, while nonhydropower renewables generation increases by 2.9%. In 2016, total renewables consumption for electric power and heat generation increases by 2.9% as a result of a 3.2% decline in hydropower and a 6.0% increase in nonhydropower renewables.

In 2013, the electricity generation shares were 6.6% and 6.2% from hydropower and nonhydropower renewables, respectively. In 2014, 6.3% of generation came from hydropower and 6.9% from nonhydropower renewables. This trend is expected to continue, with the electricity generation share from nonhydropower renewables rising to 7.9% by 2016, and the hydropower share remaining near 6.5%. Wind is the largest source of nonhydropower renewable generation, and it is projected to contribute 5.2% of total electricity generation in 2016.

EIA expects continued growth in utility-scale solar power generation, which is projected to average almost 80 gigawatthours (GWh) per day in 2016. Despite this growth, solar power averages only 0.7% 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 7.7% in 2014, is forecast to increase by 16.1% in 2015 and by another 6.5% 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 versus 6 GW of utility-scale solar between 2014 and 2016.

Liquid Biofuels

After reaching a record monthly average of 978,000 bbl/d in December 2014, ethanol production in January 2015 is estimated to be 969,000 bbl/d. Ethanol production averaged 933,000 bbl/d in 2014, and EIA expects it to average 938,000 bbl/d in 2015 and 936,000 bbl/d in 2016. Biodiesel production averaged an estimated 80,000 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 0.9% in 2014. Emissions are forecast to increase by 0.3% in 2015 and 0.5% 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 2.467 2.608 2.524
Geothermal 0.221 0.219 0.220 0.220
Solar 0.307 0.426 0.524 0.571
Wind 1.595 1.750 1.839 2.084
Wood Biomass 2.138 2.173 2.113 2.125
Ethanol 1.090 1.105 1.094 1.094
Biodiesel 0.205 0.194 0.196 0.196
Waste Biomass 0.476 0.472 0.489 0.495
Total 9.321 9.554 9.870 10.092
Carbon Dioxide Emissions by Fuel (million metric tons)
Petroleum and Other Liquid Fuels 2231 2245 2267 2278
Natural Gas 1399 1437 1457 1478
Coal 1722 1717 1690 1683
Total Fossil Fuels 5352 5399 5414 5440

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