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Short-Term Energy Outlook

Release Date: May 12, 2015  |  Next Release Date: June 9, 2015  |  Full Report    |   Text Only   |   All Tables   |   All Figures

Renewables and CO2 Emissions

Electricity and Heat Generation from Renewables

EIA expects renewables used in the electric power sector will grow by 3.0% in 2015 as conventional hydropower generation decreases by 0.9%, while nonhydropower renewable power generation increases 6.8%. The 2015 decrease in hydropower generation occurs because the effects of the California drought are only partially offset by resources elsewhere. Generation from hydropower is expected to return to longer-term average levels with an increase of 4.0% in 2016. Total renewables consumption for electric power and heat generation decreases by 0.4% in 2015 but increases by 4.5% in 2016.

EIA expects continued growth in utility-scale solar power generation, which is projected to average 83 GWh/d 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 utility-scale solar capacity will increase by 84% 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. According to current law, projects coming online after the end of next year will see a 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 impending decline in the tax credit 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 13.0% in 2015 and by another 11.3% in 2016. Because wind is starting from a much larger base than solar, even though the growth rate is lower, the absolute increase in wind 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 b/d for the first time, it is estimated to have fallen to an average of 927,000 b/d in April 2015. Ethanol production averaged 935,000 b/d in 2014, and EIA expects it to average 936,000 b/d in 2015 and 937,000 b/d in 2016. Biodiesel production averaged an estimated 81,000 b/d in 2014 and is forecast to average 81,000 b/d in 2015 and 84,000 b/d in 2016.

Energy-Related Carbon Dioxide Emissions

EIA estimates that emissions grew 1.0% in 2014 and are projected to remain flat over the forecast period. 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.
b Includes electricity and heat generation
c Other renewables includes biofuels production losses and co-products
U.S. Renewables Consumption (quadrillion Btu)
Geothermal 0.214 0.222 0.218 0.220
Hydropowera 2.562 2.469 2.447 2.544
Solar 0.305 0.427 0.520 0.599
Waste Biomass 0.496 0.488 0.500 0.505
Wind 1.596 1.729 1.842 2.050
Wood Biomass 2.170 2.214 1.983 1.937
Electricity Subtotalb 7.344 7.548 7.496 7.850
Biodiesel 0.205 0.196 0.184 0.196
Ethanol 1.090 1.109 1.104 1.115
Biofuels Subtotal 1.296 1.306 1.288 1.311
Otherc 0.709 0.758 0.756 0.762
Total 9.349 9.612 9.537 9.923
Carbon Dioxide Emissions by Fuel (million metric tons)
Petroleum and Other Liquid Fuels 2231 2249 2277 2284
Natural Gas 1401 1441 1503 1500
Coal 1718 1713 1614 1613
Total Fossil Fuels 5350 5403 5394 5397

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