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Short-Term Energy Outlook

Release Date: April 6, 2021  |  Forecast Completed: April 1, 2021  |  Next Release Date: May 11, 2021  |  Full Report    |   Text Only   |   All Tables   |   All Figures


  • EIA forecasts that electricity consumption in the United States will increase by 2.1% in 2021 after falling 3.8% in 2020. We forecast electricity sales to the industrial sector will grow by 4.2% in 2021. We forecast that retail electricity sales to the residential sector will grow by 2.3% in 2021. This increase is primarily a result of colder temperatures in the first quarter of 2021 compared with the same period in 2020. We expect retail sales of electricity to the commercial sector will increase by 0.7% in 2021. Much of the increased electricity consumption across the sectors reflects improving economic conditions in 2021. For 2022, we forecast that U.S. electricity consumption will grow by another 1.3%.
  • EIA expects that the share of electric power generated with natural gas in the United States will average 36% in 2021 and 35% in 2022, down from 39% in 2020. The forecast share for natural gas declines in response to a 39% increase in the price of natural gas delivered to electricity generators from an average of $2.39/MMBtu in 2020 to $3.31/MMBtu in 2021. The higher expected natural gas prices cause the forecast share of generation from coal to rise from 20% in 2020 to 22% this year, and to 23% next year. New additions of solar and wind generating capacity contribute to our forecast that the share of U.S. generation from renewable energy sources will rise from 20% in 2020 to 21% in 2021 and to 22% in 2022. The nuclear share of U.S. generation declines from 21% in 2020 to 20% in 2021 and to 19% in 2022, reflecting the retirement of capacity at some nuclear power plants.
  • EIA forecasts that planned additions to generating capacity from wind and solar energy in 2021 and 2022 will contribute to increasing electricity generation from those sources. We estimate that the U.S. electric power sector added 14.5 gigawatts (GW) of new wind capacity in 2020. We expect 16.1 GW of new capacity will be added in 2021 and 5.8 GW in 2022. U.S. utility-scale solar capacity rose by an estimated 10.4 GW in 2020. Our forecast for added utility-scale solar capacity is 15.8 GW in 2021 and 14.9 GW in 2022. In addition, about 5 GW of small-scale solar (projects with less than 1 megawatt of capacity) are added annually over the 2021–22 STEO forecast.

U.S. electricity generation

U.S. renewable energy supply

U.S. electricity prices

U.S. Electricity Summary
aConventional hydroelectric power only. Hydroelectricity generated by pumped storage is not included in renewable energy.
bIncludes electricity and heat generation
cOther renewables includes biofuels production losses and co-products
Retail Prices (cents per kilowatthour)
Residential Sector 13.0113.2013.4313.65
Commercial Sector 10.6710.6510.9110.99
Industrial Sector 6.816.666.766.73
Power Generation Fuel Costs (dollars per million Btu)
Coal 2.021.921.921.92
Natural Gas 2.882.393.313.44
Residual Fuel Oil 12.739.1511.3611.50
Distillate Fuel Oil 15.1610.7314.3314.52
Generation (billion kWh)
Coal 964.96773.81881.28911.72
Natural Gas 1,585.811,616.751,513.391,486.46
Nuclear 809.41789.92781.20755.93
Conventional Hydroelectric 287.87291.11269.57276.54
Renewable (non-hydroelectric) 440.80501.39579.37643.75
Total Generation 4,128.314,009.224,058.884,109.53
Retail Sales (billion kWh)
Residential Sector 1,440.291,461.961,495.591,511.43
Commercial Sector 1,360.881,275.721,284.771,306.14
Industrial Sector 1,002.35919.53958.29968.05
Total Retail Sales 3,811.153,663.743,745.063,791.94
U.S. Renewables Consumption (quadrillion Btu)
Geothermal 0.2010.2140.2160.219
Hydropowera 2.5632.5922.5542.549
Solar 1.0171.2461.6081.977
Waste Biomass 0.4420.4300.4460.449
Wind 2.6913.0653.4873.766
Wood Biomass 2.2362.1012.1682.197
Electricity Subtotalb 9.1419.63810.44311.116
Biomass-based Diesel 0.2650.2750.2930.346
Ethanol 1.2001.0411.1131.147
Biofuels Subtotal 1.4651.3151.4061.493
Otherc 0.8000.6980.7350.759
Total 11.40511.65212.58413.368

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Related Figures
U.S. electricity consumption XLSX PNG
U.S. residential electricity price XLSX PNG
U.S. electricity generation by fuel, all sectors XLSX PNG
U.S. renewable energy supply XLSX PNG
U.S. carbon dioxide emissions growth XLSX PNG
U.S. summer cooling degree days XLSX PNG
U.S. winter heating degree days XLSX PNG
U.S. census regions and census divisions XLSX PNG
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