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Short-Term Energy Outlook

Release Date: July 12, 2016  |  Next Release Date: August 9, 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 11.2% in 2016 and by 3.9% in 2017. Forecast hydropower generation in the electric power sector increases by 8.7% in 2016 and then falls by 2.6% in 2017. Generation from renewables other than hydropower is forecast to grow by 13.4% in 2016 and by 9.3% in 2017.

EIA expects that from 2015 to 2017, utility-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity will grow by about 13 gigawatts. States leading in utility-scale solar capacity additions are California, Nevada, North Carolina, Texas, and Georgia. According to EIA's Electric Power Monthly, electricity generation from utility-scale PV in 2015 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 10% in 2016 and by 11% in 2017. In 2017, forecast wind generation accounts for almost 6% of total electricity generation.

Liquid Biofuels

On November 30, 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized a rule setting Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) volumes for 2014 through 2016. On May 18, 2016, EPA released the proposed RFS volumes for 2017 along with finalized biomass-based diesel volumes for 2017. EIA used both the final and proposed volumes to develop the current STEO forecast through 2017. 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 expects the largest effect of the RFS targets will be on biomass-based diesel consumption, which includes both biodiesel and renewable diesel and 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 it is forecast to average 99,000 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 41,000 b/d in 2016 and to 47,000 b/d in 2017. EIA assumes about 10,000 b/d of domestic renewable diesel consumption will be used to help meet the biomass-based diesel and advanced biofuels RFS targets in both 2016 and 2017.

Energy-Related Carbon Dioxide Emissions

EIA estimates that energy-related emissions of carbon dioxide decreased by 2.8% in 2015. Emissions are forecast to decrease by 1.6% in 2016 and then increase by 1.1% 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 0.230 0.232
Hydropowera 2.467 2.389 2.597 2.530
Solar 0.420 0.550 0.654 0.817
Waste Biomass 0.516 0.514 0.513 0.514
Wind 1.726 1.814 2.093 2.255
Wood Biomass 2.230 2.040 1.983 2.006
Electricity Subtotalb 7.573 7.531 8.078 8.351
Biomass-based Diesel 0.198 0.214 0.272 0.300
Ethanol 1.107 1.147 1.172 1.176
Biofuels Subtotal 1.305 1.361 1.453 1.476
Otherc 0.757 0.776 0.791 0.789
Total 9.635 9.668 10.325 10.615
Carbon Dioxide Emissions by Fuel (million metric tons)
Petroleum and Other Liquid Fuels 2252 2284 2292 2297
Natural Gas 1434 1480 1507 1528
Coal 1713 1486 1370 1404
Total Energyd 5411 5262 5180 5240

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