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Short-Term Energy and Summer Fuels Outlook

Release Date: April 7, 2015  |  Next Release Date: May 12, 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 3.4% in 2015. Conventional hydropower generation increases by 6.3%, while nonhydropower renewables generation increases by 1.9%. In 2016, total renewables consumption for electric power and heat generation increases by 2.6% as a result of a 2.5% decline in hydropower and a 5.2% increase in nonhydropower renewables.

EIA expects continued growth in utility-scale solar power generation, which is projected to average 80 gigawatthours (GWh) per day in 2016. Despite this growth, utility-scale 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 75% between the end of 2014 and the end of 2016, with about half of this new capacity being built in California. Other leading states include North Carolina, Nevada, Texas, and Utah, which combined with California, account for about 90% of the projected utility-scale capacity additions for 2015 and 2016. Utility-scale solar capacity additions during 2016 are about 1 GW (26%) higher than in last month's STEO, as EIA continues to receive new information about upcoming generation capacity builds. According to current law, projects coming online after the end of next year will see a significantly reduced federal investment tax credit of 10%, well below the 30% investment tax credit available for projects that come online before the end of 2016. This provides a strong incentive for projects to enter service before the end of 2016.

Wind capacity, which grew by 8.1% in 2014, is forecast to increase by 13.1% in 2015 and by another 10.9% 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: 17 GW of wind compared with 8 GW of utility-scale solar between 2014 and 2016.

Liquid Biofuels

After ethanol production in December 2014 topped 1.0 million bbl/d for the first time, it is estimated to have fallen to an average of 944,000 bbl/d in March 2015. Ethanol production averaged 935,000 bbl/d in 2014, and EIA expects it to average 944,000 bbl/d in 2015 and 937,000 bbl/d in 2016. Biodiesel production averaged an estimated 83,000 bbl/d in 2014 and is forecast to average 82,000 bbl/d in 2015 and 84,000 bbl/d in 2016.

Energy-Related Carbon Dioxide Emissions

EIA estimates that emissions grew 0.7% in 2014. Emissions are forecast to increase by 0.1% in 2015 and by 0.4% 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 2.562 2.469 2.625 2.560
Geothermal 0.214 0.222 0.220 0.220
Solar 0.305 0.427 0.523 0.582
Wind 1.596 1.729 1.826 2.047
Wood Biomass 2.170 2.214 2.101 2.094
Ethanol 1.090 1.109 1.108 1.096
Biodiesel 0.205 0.196 0.184 0.196
Waste Biomass 0.496 0.488 0.501 0.503
Total 9.368 9.640 9.900 10.084
Carbon Dioxide Emissions by Fuel (million metric tons)
Petroleum and Other Liquid Fuels 2231 2249 2279 2285
Natural Gas 1401 1437 1490 1485
Coal 1721 1706 1630 1649
Total Fossil Fuels 5353 5392 5399 5419

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