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Short-Term Energy Outlook

Release Date: January 9, 2018  |  Next Release Date: February 6, 2018  |  Full Report    |   Text Only   |   All Tables   |   All Figures

Renewables and Carbon Dioxide Emissions

Electricity Renewables Generation and Capacity. After increasing by 13% in 2017, EIA expects total generation from renewables in all sectors (including utility- and small-scale generators) to decrease by 3% in 2018 and then to increase by 7% in 2019. Forecast electricity generation from hydropower decreases by 12% in 2018 and increases by 2% in 2019. This change in hydropower generation drives the decrease in overall renewable generation growth in 2018. Generation from renewable energy other than hydropower in the electric power sector is forecast to grow by 3% in 2018 and by 9% in 2019.

EIA estimates that total U.S. small-scale solar capacity was 16 gigawatts (GW) at the end of 2017. EIA expects that capacity to be 19 GW at the end of 2018 and 23 GW at the end of 2019.

EIA estimates that U.S. large-scale solar capacity totaled 27 GW at the end of 2017 and forecasts by the end of 2018 that capacity will rise to 30 GW. States leading in large-scale solar capacity additions are California, Florida, North Carolina, and Texas. Forecast large-scale solar generation averages 1.5% of total U.S. electricity generation in 2018. By the end of 2019, large-scale solar capacity is forecast to be 42 GW. In 2019 the average generation share is about 1.7% of total generation.

EIA estimates that U.S. large-scale wind capacity totaled 88 GW at the end of 2017, and by the end of 2018 that capacity is expected to rise to 96 GW. Forecast wind generation accounts for 6.4% of total generation in 2018. Wind capacity rises to 104 GW in 2019, and its generation share is 6.9%. If the forecast levels of both wind and hydro generation are met in 2019, it would be the first time that wind generation surpasses hydropower as the leading source of renewable electricity generation.

Liquid Biofuels. In November 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized a rule setting Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) volumes for 2018 and biomass-based diesel volumes for 2019. EIA used these final volumes to develop the current STEO forecast for 2018 and 2019. EIA expects that the largest effect of the current RFS targets, along with recent duties placed on biodiesel imports, will be on biomass-based diesel production and net imports, which help to meet the RFS targets for use of biomass-based diesel, advanced biofuel, and total renewable fuel. Biodiesel production averaged an estimated 105,000 barrels per day (b/d) in 2017, and it is forecast to increase to an average of 117,000 b/d in 2018 and to 128,000 b/d in 2019. In large part because of recent duties imposed on foreign biodiesel imports from Argentina and Indonesia, net imports of biomass-based diesel are expected to fall from an estimated 41,000 b/d in 2017 to 32,000 b/d in 2018 and then rise to 35,000 b/d in 2019.

Ethanol production averaged an estimated 1.0 million b/d in 2017 and is forecast to average roughly the same in both 2018 and 2019. Ethanol consumption averaged about 940,000 b/d in 2017 and is forecast to be 960,000 b/d in 2018 and 970,000 b/d in 2019. This level of consumption results in the ethanol share of the total gasoline pool increasing from an average of 10.2% in 2017 to an average of 10.3% in 2018 and 2019. This increase in the ethanol share assumes that recent marginal growth in higher-level ethanol blends continue during the forecast period.

Energy-Related Carbon Dioxide Emissions. EIA estimates that energy-related emissions of carbon dioxide decreased by 1.0% in 2017 and forecasts these levels to increase by 1.7% in 2018 and by 0.2% in 2019. These forecasts are sensitive to assumptions about weather, economic growth, and fuel prices.

U.S. Renewables & CO2 Emissions Summary
  2016201720182019
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
dIncludes electric power sector use of geothermal energy and non-biomass waste
U.S. Renewables Consumption (quadrillion Btu)
Geothermal 0.2100.2140.2340.238
Hydropowera 2.4722.7662.4482.509
Solar 0.5700.7750.8951.047
Waste Biomass 0.5030.4860.4970.501
Wind 2.1132.3572.3962.612
Wood Biomass 1.9832.0041.9591.966
Electricity Subtotalb 7.8368.5408.4018.839
Biomass-based Diesel 0.2910.3000.2910.319
Ethanol 1.1821.1931.2101.223
Biofuels Subtotal 1.4731.4921.5021.542
Otherc 0.8010.8140.8190.818
Total 10.10910.85210.72211.199
Carbon Dioxide Emissions by Fuel (million metric tons)
Petroleum and Other Liquid Fuels 2,3272,3312,3612,375
Natural Gas 1,4951,4641,5381,581
Coal 1,3541,3301,3151,267
Total Energyd 5,1875,1375,2255,235

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