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Short-Term Energy Outlook

Release Date: July 11, 2017  |  Next Release Date: August 8, 2017  |  Full Report    |   Text Only   |   All Tables   |   All Figures

Renewables and Carbon Dioxide Emissions

Electricity Renewables Generation and Capacity

EIA expects total generation from renewables in the electric power sector to increase by 11% in 2017 and then remain relatively unchanged in 2018. Forecast electricity generation from hydropower increases by 13% in 2017 and decreases by 9% in 2018. This change in hydropower generation is the driver for the absence of overall renewable generation growth in 2018. Generation from renewable energy other than hydropower in the electric power sector is forecast to grow by 10% in 2017 and by 6% in 2018.

Beginning in this STEO, EIA is expanding its presentation of data and forecasts for renewable energy sources to include new forecasts of capacity and electricity generation from small-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. Small-scale solar PV systems are defined in EIA publications as those smaller than 1 megawatt in size (as measured in alternating current) and are typically of the type installed on the rooftops of residences or businesses. The new small-scale solar PV forecasts are presented in a new table (Table 8b). This table also shows capacity and electricity generation estimates for large-scale power plants from all renewable technologies.

EIA estimates that total U.S. small-scale solar capacity was 13 gigawatts (GW) at the end of 2016. EIA expects that capacity to be 17 GW at the end of 2017 and to be 22 GW at the end of 2018.

EIA estimates that U.S. large-scale solar capacity totaled almost 22 GW at the end of 2016 and forecasts that by the end of 2018 that capacity is projected to rise to 32 GW. States leading in large-scale solar capacity additions are California, Nevada, North Carolina, and Texas. Forecast large-scale solar generation averages 1.5% of total U.S. electricity generation in 2018.

EIA estimates that U.S. large-scale wind capacity totaled 81 GW at the end of 2016, and by the end of 2018 that capacity is expected to rise to 102 GW. Forecast wind generation accounts for 6.4% of total generation in 2018.

Liquid Biofuels

In November 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized a rule setting Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) volumes for 2017, and earlier this month released their proposed RFS volumes for 2018 and a proposed biomass-based diesel volume for 2019. EIA used both the final and proposed volumes to develop the current STEO forecast for 2017 and 2018. EIA expects that the largest effect of the current RFS targets will continue to 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 101,000 barrels per day (b/d) in 2016, and it is forecast to increase to an average of 105,000 b/d in 2017 and to 109,000 b/d in 2018. Net imports of biomass-based diesel are expected to fall from 54,000 b/d in 2016 to 53,000 b/d in 2017 and then rise to 59,000 b/d in 2018.

Ethanol production averaged 1.0 million b/d in 2016 and is forecast to average slightly above 1.0 million b/d in 2017, which would be a record, before declining slightly in 2018. Ethanol consumption averaged about 940,000 b/d in 2016 and is forecast to increase slightly in both 2017 and 2018. This level of consumption results in the ethanol share of the total gasoline pool increasing to nearly 10.1% in both 2017 and 2018. Only marginal increases in higher-level ethanol blends are assumed to occur during the STEO forecast period.

Energy-Related Carbon Dioxide Emissions

EIA estimates that energy-related emissions of carbon dioxide decreased by 1.7% in 2016. Emissions are forecast to decrease by 0.6% in 2017 and increase by 1.7% in 2018. These forecasts are sensitive to assumptions about weather, economic growth, and fuel prices.

U.S. Renewables & CO2 Emissions Summary
  2015 2016 2017 2018
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 0.212 0.226 0.232 0.236
Hydropowera 2.321 2.477 2.780 2.542
Solar 0.426 0.587 0.776 0.937
Waste Biomass 0.518 0.522 0.530 0.532
Wind 1.776 2.112 2.295 2.423
Wood Biomass 2.071 1.959 1.958 1.955
Electricity Subtotalb 7.311 7.867 8.534 8.595
Biomass-based Diesel 0.215 0.289 0.314 0.328
Ethanol 1.148 1.186 1.190 1.194
Biofuels Subtotal 1.363 1.475 1.505 1.522
Otherc 0.776 0.796 0.820 0.808
Total 9.450 10.138 10.861 10.925
Carbon Dioxide Emissions by Fuel (million metric tons)
Petroleum and Other Liquid Fuels 2295 2320 2325 2355
Natural Gas 1473 1485 1437 1490
Coal 1480 1354 1367 1375
Total Energyd 5259 5171 5141 5230

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