EIA annual outlook predicts bioenergy growth

By Erin Voegele | April 15, 2015

The U.S. Energy Information Administration has released its Annual Energy Outlook 2015 (AEO2015), which presents updated projections for U.S. energy markets through 2040 based on six different cases that reflect updated scenarios for crude oil prices. The six cases include the reference case, low and high economic growth, low and high oil price, and high oil and gas resource.

The AEO2015 reference case predicts renewable electricity generation will increase by 72 percent from 2013 to 2040, accounting for more than one-third of new generation capacity. The total share of renewable generation is expected to grow from 13 percent in 2013 to 18 percent in 2040.

Regarding biomass, generation under the reference case increases by an average of 3.1 percent, led by cofiring at existing coal plants through approximately 2030. After 2030, the reference case predicts new dedicated biomass plants will account for most of the growth in generation from biomass energy sources.

Under the reference case, biomass generation is expected to increase from 4.2 quadrillion Btu in 2013 to 5 quadrillion Btu in 2040, an annual growth rate of 0.7 percent. Consumption of biomass resources is expected to increase from 2.9 quadrillion Btu in 2013 to 3.5 quadrillion Btu in 2040, a 0.7 percent annual growth rate.

In the electric power sector, the reference case indicates wood and other forms of biomass will have 3.3 GW of net summer capacity, increasing to 5.5 GW in 2040, a 1.8 percent annual growth rate. Power generation in the electric power sector from biogenic municipal waste is expected to increase from 16.5 billion kWh in 2013 to 20.2 billion kWh in 2040. Generation from wood and other biomass is expected to increase from 12.2 billion kWh in 2013 to 58.8 billion kWh in 2040. For dedicated plant, generation is expected to increase from 11.1 billion kWh in 2013 to 30.3 billion kWh in 2040. For cofiring facilities, generation is expected to increase from 1.1 billion kWh in 2013 to 28.5 kWh in 2040.

 In end-use sectors, the EIA’s reference case shows net summer capacity for biomass is expected to increase from 5 GW in 2013 to 5.6 GW in 2040. Generation is expected to increase from 27.2 billion kWh in 2013 to 30.5 billion kWh in 2040.

Across all sectors, net summer capacity for municipal waste is expected to increase from 4.1 GW in 2013 to 4.3 GW in 2040. For wood and other biomass, net summer capacity is expected to increase from 8.3 GW in 2013 to 11.1 GW in 2040. Generation from municipal waste is expected to increase from 20.1 billion kWh in 2013 to 23.8 billion kWh in 2040, while generation from wood and other biomass is expected to increase from 39.4 billion kWh in 2013 to 89.3 billion kWh in 2040.

Under the low economic growth rate scenario, the EIA predicts biomass production will reach 4.5 quadrillion Btu in 2040, down from the 5.0 quadrillion Btu level included in the reference case. Under the high economic growth scenario, biomass production could increase to 6.0 quadrillion Btu by 2040. Under the low economic growth scenario, biomass consumption could be 3.1 quadrillion Btu in 2040, down from the 3.5 quadrillion Btu reference case, with the high economic growth case predicting biomass consumption of 4.4 quadrillion Btu in 2040.

Under the low oil price case, biomass production could be 4.7 quadrillion Btu by 2040, compared to the reference cast of 5 quadrillion Btu, with the high oil price case predicting biomass consumption of 5.7 quadrillion Btu. Under the low oil price scenario, biomass consumption is expected to be 3.3 quadrillion Btu, down from the 3.5 quadrillion Btu reference case, with the high oil price case predicting biomass consumption of 4.0 quadrillion Btu in 2040.

Under the high oil and gas resource case, biomass production would reach 5.1 quadrillion Btu in 2040, up from the 5.0 quadrillion Btu reference case. Biomass consumption under the high oil and gas resource scenario and the reference case would be 3.5 quadrillion Btu in 2040.

A full copy of the report can be downloaded from the EIA website.