EIA updates bioenergy forecasts in short-term outlook

By Erin Voegele | June 09, 2015

The U.S. Energy Information Administration has released the June edition of its Short-Term Energy Outlook, predicting renewables used in the electric power sector will increase by 2.6 percent this year. Conventional hydropower generation is expected to decrease 1.9 percent, due primarily to the California drought, with nonhydropower renewable power generation increasing by an estimated 6.9 percent. Total renewables consumption for electric power and heat generation decreases by 1.1 percent in 2015, but increasing by 5.6 percent next year.

U.S. electricity generation from wood biomass is expected to reach 119,000 MWh per day this year, up from 118,000 MWh per day last year. Next year, U.S. electricity generation from wood biomass is expected to increase to 122,000 MWh per day. Electricity production from waste biomass is also expected to increase from a level of 58,000 MWh per day in 2014 and 2015 to 60,000 MWh per day next year.

In the electric power sector, wood biomass consumption is expected to reach 0.248 quadrillion Btu (quad) this year, increasing to 0.256 quad next year. Consumption of waste biomass in the electric power sector is also expected to increase from 0.264 quad this year to 0.73 quad next year.

Wood biomass consumption in the industrial sector is expected to reach 1.220 quad this year, falling to 1.189 quad next year. The consumption of waste biomass by the industrial sector, however, is expected to increase, from 0.185 quad this year to 0.186 quad next year.

The commercial sector is expected to consume 0.074 quad of wood biomass this year, increasing to 0.075 quad next year. The consumption of waste biomass is also expected to increase slightly, from 0.047 quad this year to 0.048 quad net year.

In the residential sector, consumption of wood biomass is expected to reach 0.447 quad this year, falling to 0.418 quad next year.

Across all U.S. sectors, the consumption of wood biomass is expected to be 1.991 quad this year, increasing to 1.939 quad next year. The consumption of waste biomass is also expected to increase, from 0.497 quad this year to 0.508 quad in 2016.

The EIA’s most recent Electric Power Monthly report, published in late May, indicates that net generation from wood and wood-derived fuels was 10.57 million MWh during the first three months of this year, down 0.9 percent when compared to the same period of the prior year. Generation from other biomass was 4.98 million MWh during the same three-month period, down 1.1 percent when compared to the first quarter of 2014.

Net generation from biomass in the New England region was 2.01 million MWh during the first quarter, up 1.2 percent from the same period of last year. In the Middle Atlantic region, generation from biomass reached 1.38 million MWh, up 0.4 percent from the same three months of 2014. Generation in the East North Central region, however, was 1.47 million MWh, down 6.4 percent from the same quarter of 2014. Generation from biomass fell to 498,000 MWh in the West North Central region, down 2.4 percent from last year. In the South Atlantic region, generation from biomass was 4.41 million MWh, down 1 percent, while generation in the East South Central region was 1.4 million MWh, down 3.3 percent. During the first quarter, generation in the West South Central region reached 1.61 million MWh, up 5.1 percent, while generation in the Mountain region was 244,000 MWh, down 3.2 percent. In the Pacific Contiguous region, generation was 2.32 million MWh, down 2.2 percent, with generation in the Pacific Noncontiguous region was 104,000 MWh, up 10.4 percent.

According to the EIA, 36.8 MW of biomass capacity was added in March, including 5.1 MW of wood and wood waste biomass capacity, 15.4 MW of landfill gas capacity, 1.5 MW of municipal solid waste (MSW) capacity, and 14.8 MW of capacity from other sources of waste biomass. As of the close of March, the EIA said the U.S. has 13,601.7 MW of biomass generation capacity in place.

Over the next 12 months, the EIA estimates the U.S. will add an additional 277.7 MW of biomass capacity, including 126.3 MW of capacity from wood and wood waste, 29 MW of capacity from landfill gas, 85 MW of capacity from MSW, and 37.4 MW of capacity from other sources of waste biomass.