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Short-Term Energy Outlook

Release Date: July 10, 2018  |  Next Release Date: August 7, 2018  |  Full Report    |   Text Only   |   All Tables   |   All Figures

Renewables and Carbon Dioxide Emissions

Electricity Renewables Generation and Capacity. Renewable generation provided 17.1% of total electricity generation in 2017, and EIA expects the share of generation from renewable sources to decrease slightly in 2018 and to increase to 17.4% in 2019. Within the renewables category, hydropower was 7.5% of total generation in 2017 and is forecasted to decline slightly to 6.8% in 2018 and to 6.6% in 2019. The share of total generation for renewables other than hydropower, which was 9.6% in 2017, is forecast to rise to 10.1% in 2018 and to 10.8% in 2019.

EIA forecasts 6 gigawatts (GW) of utility-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity will be added in 2018 and 11 GW will be added in 2019. In addition, nearly 8 GW of small-scale solar PV capacity is expected to be installed in 2018 and 2019.

Domestic PV markets have been affected by a number of factors over the past six months, including: tariffs on PV modules imported into the United States (announced in late January 2018) starting at 30% and phasing out over four years; revision of PV installation targets in China, which may produce a near-term surplus of PV modules on the international market; and recent publication by the Internal Revenue Service of a safe-harbor provision for PV installations to qualify for a 30% investment tax credit, which allows for a four-year construction period upon project initiation (start of physical construction or expenditure of 5% of project value).

Although the above factors may, in some respects, counteract each other, EIA expects that the main effect of each factor will be felt over the next four years and may, on net, tend to extend project development activity or delay construction completions until after 2019. Regardless of the cause, EIA has seen fewer reports of PV projects slated to come online in 2019 than expected at the beginning of this year. EIA will continue to adjust the forecast to reflect observed market conditions.

EIA expects wind capacity to increase from 88 GW at the end of 2017 to 94 GW at the end of 2018 and to 104 GW by the end of 2019. The 11% increase in capacity in 2019 is expected to yield only a 4% annual increase in generation because much of that capacity is coming online in the last quarter of the year.

U.S. renewable energy supply

Liquid Biofuels. On June 26, 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a proposed rulemaking that set Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) volumes for 2019 and biomass-based diesel volumes for 2020. EIA used these final volumes to develop the forecasts 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 104,000 barrels per day (b/d) in 2017 and is forecast to increase to an average of 131,000 b/d in 2018 and to 144,000 b/d in 2019. Largely 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 33,000 b/d in 2017 to 30,000 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 about the same in 2018 and in 2019. Ethanol consumption averaged about 940,000 b/d in 2017 and is forecast to be about 940,000 b/d again in 2018 and then rise to 950,000 b/d in 2019. This level of consumption results in the ethanol share of the total gasoline pool increasing slightly from an average of 10.1% in 2017 to an average approaching 10.2% by 2019. This increase in the ethanol share assumes that recent marginal growth in higher-level ethanol blends continues during the forecast period.

Energy-Related Carbon Dioxide Emissions. After declining by 0.9% in 2017, energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are expected to increase by 1.8% in 2018, driven by a 7.2% increase in natural gas emissions. CO2 emission are expected to decline by 0.5% in 2019, as natural gas consumption is forecast to increase modestly and coal consumption is forecast to decline by 4.3%. Energy-related CO2 emissions are sensitive to changes in weather, economic growth, energy prices, and fuel mix.

U.S. carbon dioxide emissions growth

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 0.2100.2110.2210.229
Hydropowera 2.4722.7702.6062.525
Solar 0.5690.7740.9331.096
Waste Biomass 0.5030.4820.6010.667
Wind 2.1132.3672.5382.640
Wood Biomass 2.1312.1452.1772.166
Electricity Subtotalb 7.9838.7329.0539.292
Biomass-based Diesel 0.2910.2790.3110.350
Ethanol 1.1821.1891.1901.203
Biofuels Subtotal 1.4731.4671.5011.553
Otherc 0.8010.8170.8210.819
Total 10.25611.01611.38311.664
Carbon Dioxide Emissions by Fuel (million metric tons)
Petroleum and Other Liquid Fuels 2,3272,3382,3632,385
Natural Gas 1,4961,4741,5801,580
Coal 1,3541,3181,2791,227
Total Energyd 5,1895,1425,2335,204

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