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Short-Term Energy Outlook

Release Date: May 10, 2016  |  Next Release Date: June 7, 2016  |  Full Report    |   Text Only   |   All Tables   |   All Figures

Renewables and Carbon Dioxide Emissions

Electricity and Heat Generation from Renewables

EIA expects total renewables used in the electric power sector to increase by 11.3% in 2016 and by 4.4% in 2017. Forecast hydropower generation in the electric power sector increases by 9.1% in 2016 and then falls by 0.6% in 2017. Generation from renewables other than hydropower is forecast to grow by 13.3% in 2016 and by 8.6% in 2017.

EIA expects that from 2015 to 2017, utility-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity will grow by more than 13 gigawatts (GW). States leading in utility-scale solar capacity additions are California, Nevada, North Carolina, Texas, and Georgia. According to EIA's Electric Power Monthly, in 2015 electricity generation from utility-scale PV exceeded generation from wind in California for the first time. Forecast utility-scale solar power generation averages 1.1% of total U.S. electricity generation in 2017.

Wind capacity, which starts from a significantly larger installed capacity base than solar, grew by 12% in 2015, and it is forecast to increase by 9% in 2016 and by 10% in 2017. In 2017, wind generation accounts for almost 6% of total generation.

Liquid Biofuels

On November 30, 2015, EPA finalized a rule setting Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) volumes for 2014 through 2016. EIA used these final volumes to develop the current STEO forecast and assumes the 2016 targets will also apply to 2017. However, EPA did issue a biomass-based diesel target for 2017 of 2.0 billion gallons, which EIA uses for this forecast. Ethanol production averaged almost 970,000 b/d in 2015, and it is forecast to average about 980,000 b/d in 2016 and 2017. Ethanol consumption averaged about 910,000 b/d in 2015, and it is forecast to average about 930,000 b/d in both 2016 and 2017. This level of consumption results in the ethanol share of the total gasoline pool averaging 10.0% in both 2016 and 2017. 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 helps to meet the RFS targets for use of biomass-based diesel, advanced biofuel, and total renewable fuel. Biodiesel production averaged 82,000 b/d in 2015 and is forecast to average 100,000 b/d in 2016 and 106,000 b/d in 2017. Net imports of biomass-based diesel are expected to rise from 29,000 b/d in 2015 to 42,000 b/d in 2016 and to 47,000 b/d in 2017.

Energy-Related Carbon Dioxide Emissions

EIA estimates that energy-related emissions of carbon dioxide decreased by 2.7% in 2015. Emissions are forecast to decrease by 1.5% in 2016, and then to increase by 1.4% in 2017. These forecasts are sensitive to assumptions about weather and economic growth.

U.S. Renewables & CO2 Emissions Summary
  2014 2015 2016 2017
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
d Includes electric power sector use of geothermal energy and non-biomass waste
U.S. Renewables Consumption (quadrillion Btu)
Geothermal 0.214 0.224 0.232 0.233
Hydropowera 2.467 2.389 2.605 2.589
Solar 0.420 0.550 0.639 0.817
Waste Biomass 0.516 0.514 0.510 0.510
Wind 1.727 1.815 2.084 2.224
Wood Biomass 2.230 2.040 1.994 2.009
Electricity Subtotalb 7.574 7.532 8.027 8.377
Biomass-based Diesel 0.198 0.214 0.276 0.300
Ethanol 1.107 1.147 1.176 1.176
Biofuels Subtotal 1.305 1.361 1.450 1.476
Otherc 0.757 0.776 0.787 0.790
Total 9.636 9.669 10.259 10.643
Carbon Dioxide Emissions by Fuel (million metric tons)
Petroleum and Other Liquid Fuels 2252 2285 2277 2294
Natural Gas 1434 1480 1501 1519
Coal 1713 1486 1395 1431
Total Energyd 5406 5258 5181 5251

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