EIA releases early version of Annual Energy Outlook

By Anna Austin | February 29, 2012

The U.S. Energy Information Administration has made public an early release version of its 2012 Annual Energy Outlook. The report predicts biomass and wind electricity to dominate projected increases in U.S. non-hydro renewable electricity generation.

For biomass specifically, the EIA predicts a four-fold increase by the year 2035, accounting for 30 percent of the growth in non-hydro renewables. The report states that the quadruple increase is driven by two main factors: federal requirements to use more biomass-based transportation fuels—which leads to increased electricity generation as a co-product from liquid fuel facilities such as cellulosic ethanol refineries—and the co-firing of biomass with coal increasing over the projection period. This will be induced partially by state-level renewable portfolio standards, as well as favorable economics in regions with significant forestry residues, according to the EIA. It expects traditional industrial combined-heat-and-power generation in sectors such as the pulp and paper industry to continue to contribute to overall biomass generation.

Overall, the non-hydro renewable share of total generation in the projection increases from 4 percent in 2010 to 9 percent in 2035. Marketed renewable fuels include wood, municipal waste, and hydroelectricity in the end-use sectors; hydroelectricity, geothermal, municipal solid waste, solar, and wind for generation in the electric power sector; and ethanol for gasoline blending and biomass-based diesel in the transportation sector.

The report assumes implementation of current laws and regulations as specified, including the scheduled expiration of some tax credits at the end of 2012.

The full 2012 Annual Energy Outlook will be released later this spring.