EIA updates bioenergy production, capacity forests in April STEO

By Erin Voegele | April 07, 2020

COVID-19 is impacting virtually all U.S. industries, including the renewable power sector. The U.S. Energy Information Administration released a Short-Term Energy Outlook on April 7 reporting that COVID-19 and the resulting economic slowdown will likely impact the development of new generating capacity over the next few months.

The EIA currently predicts that total U.S. electric power generation will fall by 3 percent this year. The decline, however, is expected to primarily impact fossil-fuel generation, particularly coal-fired power generation, which is expected to fall by 20 percent this year.

The EIA currently forecasts that biomass will be used to generate 27.3 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity this year, down from 28.8 billion kWh in 2019. Production from biomass is expected to rebound to 280.8 billion kWh in 2021.

Other sectors are expected to generate 29.7 billion kWh from biomass this year, flat with 2019. Generation is expected to fall to 26.6 billion kWh in 2021.

The electric power sector is expected to consume 0.231 quadrillion Btu (quad) of wood waste biomass this year, down from 0.36 quad in 2019. Consumption is expected to increase to 0.235 quad in 2021. The sector is also expected to consume 0.194 quad of wood biomass this year, down from 0.221 quad in 2021. The sector’s consumption of wood biomass is expected to increase next year, reaching 0.212 quad.

The industrial sector is expected to consume 0.162 quad of waste biomass this year, up from 0.16 quad in 2019. Consumption is expected to be at 0.161 quad in 2021. The sector is also expected to consume 1.386 quad of wood biomass this year, down from 1.473 quad in 2019. The sector’s consumption of wood biomass is expected to fall to 1.382 quad in 2021.

The commercial sector consumed 0.036 quad of waste biomass and 0.084 quad of wood biomass in 2019. Those levels of consumption are expected to remain flat through 2020 and 2021.

The residential sector is expected to consume 0.526 quad of wood biomass this year, down from 0.529 quad in 2019. Consumption is expected to remain at 0.526 quad through 2021.

Across all sectors, waste biomass consumption is expected to be at 0.429 quad this year, down from 0.433 quad last year. Consumption is expected to return to 0.433 quad in 2021. Wood biomass consumption is expected to gall to 2.19 quad this year, down from 2.297 quad in 2019, but rebound slightly to 2.204 quad in 2021.

Biomass capacity in the electric power sector is expected to reach 6,784 megawatts (MW) by the end of this year, down from 6,811 MW in 2019. Biomass capacity for 2020 is expected to include 4,025 MW of waste biomass capacity and 2,759 MW of wood biomass capacity. Overall biomass capacity is expected to reach 6,814 MW in 2021, including 4,055 MW of waste biomass capacity and 2,759 MW of wood biomass capacity.

Across other sectors, biomass capacity is expected to be at 6,507 MW this year, nearly level with 2019. Capacity for 2020 includes 855 MW of waste biomass capacity and 5,652 MW of wood biomass capacity. Biomass capacity is expected to fall to 6,466 MW in 2021, including 866 MW of waste biomass capacity and 5,600 MW of wood biomass capacity.