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EIA outlook includes bioenergy forecasts for 2015 and 2016

By Erin Voegele | January 13, 2015

The U.S. Energy Information Administration has released the January issue of its Short-Term Energy Outlook, which includes updated forecasts for energy production from wood and waste biomass as well as data related to home heating methods.

Within its report, the EIA predicts total renewables used for electricity and heat are expected to grow by 3.3 percent in 2015, with nonhydropower renewables generation increasing by 3.9 percent. In 2016, total renewables consumption for electric power and heat generation is expected to increase by 4.8 percent, with a 6.6 percent increase in nonhydropower renewables.

The U.S. generated about 116,000 MWh per day of electricity from wood biomass last year. That production level is expected to increase to 119,000 MWh per day this year and 122,000 MWh per day next year. Waste biomass was used to generate approximately 54,000 MWh per day of electricity last year. This year, the EIA predicts waste biomass will be used to generate 58,000 MWh per day of electricity this year, with production expected to be maintained at that level in 2016.

According to the EIA, the electric power sector consumed 0.25 quadrillion Btu (quad) of wood biomass last year, and is expected to consume 0.27 quad this year and 0.28 quad next year. The electric power sector consumed 0.26 quad of waste biomass last year and is expected to consume 0.28 quad this year and 0.28 quad next year. The industrial sector consumed an estimated 1.26 quad of wood biomass last year, with consumption expected to drop to 1.2 quad this year and reach 1.21 quad next year. The industrial sector also consumed an estimated 0.17 quad of waste biomass last year, with consumption expected to be 0.17 quad this year and 0.17 quad in 2016. The commercial sector consumed about 0.07 quad of wood biomass last year, with consumption expected to increase to 0.08 quad this year and 0.08 quad next year. The commercial sector also consumed an estimated 0.05 quad of waste biomass last year, with consumption expected to be relatively steady at 0.05 this year and in 2016. The residential sector consumed approximately 0.58 quad of wood biomass last year, with consumption expected to drop slightly to 0.57 quad this year and 0.57 quad next year. On a combined basis, all sector of the U.S. consumed nearly 2.17 quad of wood biomass last year, with consumption expected to fall to 2.12 quad this year and 2.14 quad next year. All sectors of the U.S. also consumed 0.47 quad of waste biomass last year with 0.49 quad expected to be consumed this year, increasing to 0.50 quad next year.  

Within its report, the EIA predicts heating degree days during the first quarter of 2015 are projected to be approximately 12 percent lower than last year. The U.S. average for heating degree days for 2014 was 4,519. The EIA currently predicts that will decrease to 4,228 heating degree days this year, and 4,204 heating degree days in 2016. For the 2014-’15 winter season, the EIA predicts the U.S. will average 3,657 heating degree days, down 10.5 percent from last year.

EIA data indicates approximately 2.71 million households will use wood as a primary heating fuel this winter, up 3.9 percent from last year. That number includes 646,000 households in the Northeast, a 6.9 percent increase; 696,000 households in the Midwest, a 6.2 percent increase; 635,000 households in the South, a 1.7 percent increase; and 734,000 households in the West, a 1.1 percent increase.