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February 2, 2016

Electricity generation from renewable sources expected to grow 9% this year

graph of electricity generation from utility-scale plants, as explained in the article text
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Short-Term Energy Outlook, January 2016

Electricity generated from utility-scale renewable plants is expected to grow by 9% in 2016, based on projections in the latest Short-Term Energy Outlook. Much of the growth comes from new installations of wind and solar plants and increases in hydroelectric generation after a relatively dry 2015. In 2016, electricity from utility-scale renewable sources is expected to account for 14% of the total electricity generated in the United States, with wind and solar contributing 5.2% and 0.8%, respectively.

Increases in renewable capacity and generation are influenced by federal, state, and local policies. Extension of federal tax credits as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act passed at the end of 2015 is expected to have little effect on renewable capacity additions in 2016 because most utility-scale plants that will enter service in 2016 are already being developed, including several wind and solar projects. EIA's Electric Power Monthly, based on data reported on EIA's Annual Electric Generator Report (EIA-860) about planned capacity additions, shows that wind and solar plants make up two-thirds of all capacity additions planned for 2016.

Changes in electricity generation from other renewable fuels in 2016 are expected to be flat (in the case of biomass) or relatively modest (4% increase in geothermal). Electricity generation from hydropower facilities is expected to increase 5% in 2016 based on expectations of high precipitation during El Niño, with water levels recovering from the relatively dry years in recent history.

More information about electricity projections is available in the most recent Short-Term Energy Outlook.

Principal contributor: Perry Lindstrom, Tyler Hodge