EIA predicts increased electricity production from renewables

By Erin Voegele | March 09, 2016

The U.S. Energy Information Administration has released the March edition of its Short-Term Energy Outlook, predicting total renewables used in the electric power sector will increase by 8.7 percent this year and 6.5 percent next year. For nonhydropower renewables, the EIA predicts an 11.5 percent growth in 2016 and 9.5 percent in 2017.

When compared to the February STEO, the EIA has dropped its 2015 and 2016 forecasts for wood biomass consumption by 0.2 percent and 0.5 percent, respectively. The forecasts for wood biomass power generation capacity has been maintained at approximately 3,066 MW this year and 3,108 MW next year.

The EIA predicts wood biomass will be used to generate 113,000 MWh per day of electricity this year, increasing to 116,000 MWh per day next year. Waste biomass is expected to be used to generate 60,000 MWh per day, falling to 59,000 MWh per day next year.

The electric power sector is expected to consume 0.245 quadrillion Btu (quad) of wood biomass this year, increasing to 0.257 quad next year. The sector is also expected to consume 0.275 quad of waste biomass in 2016, falling to 0.271 quad in 2017.

The industrial sector is expected to consume 1.233 quad of wood biomass in 2016, falling to 1.227 quad next year. Consumption of waste biomass, however, is expected to increase, from 0.194 quad this year to 0.197 quad next year.

The commercial sector is expected to consume 0.076 quad of wood biomass this year, increasing to 0.078 quad next year. The sector is also expected to consume 0.043 quad of waste biomass in 2016, increasing slightly to 0.044 quad in 2017.

The residential sector is expected to consume 0.418 quad of wood biomass in 2016, increasing to 0.426 quad next year.

Across all sectors, the consumption of wood biomass is expected to reach 1.972 quad this year, increasing to 1.988 quad next year. The consumption was waste biomass is expected to fall slightly, from 0.512 quad this year to 0.511 quad in 2017.

The STEO also predicts a slight increase in the number of households heating primarily by wood in 2015-’16, reaching nearly 2.62 million, a 1.3 percent increase over 2014-’15. This includes 596,000 households in the Northeast, a 2.6 percent increase; 635,000 households in the Midwest, a 0.8 percent increase; 627,000 households in the South, a 2.4 percent increase; and 757,000 households in the West, a 0.3 percent decrease.

In late February, the EIA released an updated edition of its Electric Power Monthly report, indicating the U.S. added 1 MW of utility-scale bioenergy capacity in December, all from landfill gas. Over the next 12 months, the U.S. is expected to add 149.7 MW of biomass capacity, including 65.5 MW of capacity from wood/wood waste biomass, 55.3 MW from landfill gas, and 28.9 MW from other waste biomass.