EIA updates bioenergy forecasts

By Erin Voegele | August 11, 2020

The U.S. Energy Information Administration currently expects electricity generation from renewable energy sources to increase from 17 percent in 2019 to 20 percent in 2020 and 22 percent in 2021, according to the agency’s latest Short-Term Energy Outlook, released Aug. 11.

The EIA forecasts that biomass will be used to generate 27.4 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity this year, down from 28.8 billion kWh in 2019. Generation from biomass is expected to increase to 30.1 billion kWh in 2021. Generation from waste biomass is expected to be at 15.5 billion kWh this year, down from 15.7 billion kWh in 2019, but increase to 16.2 billion kWh in 2021. Generation from wood biomass is expected to fall to 11.9 billion kWh in 2020, down from 13 billion kWh in 2019, before increasing to 13.9 billion kWh in 2021.

Across other sectors, biomass generation was at 39.7 billion kWh in 2019, including 2.8 billion kWh from waste biomass and 26.8 billion kWh from wood biomass. In 2020, generation from biomass is expected to fall to 29.6 billion kWh, including 2.8 billion kWh of waste biomass and 16.8 billion kWh of wood biomass. In 2021, biomass generation is expected to be at 29.5 billion kWh, including 2.8 billion kWh of waste biomass and 26.7 billion kWh of wood biomass.

The electric power sector is expected to consume 0.232 quadrillion Btu (quad) of waste biomass this year, down from 0.236 quad in 2019. In 2021, the sector’s consumption of waste biomass is expected to increase to 0.242 quad. The electric power sector is also expected to consume 0.193 quad of wood biomass this year, increasing to 0.226 quad in 2021. The sector consumed 0.211 quad of wood biomass in 2019.

The industrial sector is expected to consume 0.166 quad of waste biomass in both 2020 and 2021, up from 0.16 quad in 2019. The sector is also expected to consume 1.392 quad of wood biomass this year, down from 1.473 quad in 2019. The industrial sector’s consumption of wood biomass is expected to fall to 1.385 quad in 2021.

The commercial sector is expected to consume 0.035 quad of wood biomass this year and next year, down from 0.036 quad in 2019. The sector is also expected to consume 0.085 quad of wood biomass in 2020 and 2021, up from 0.84 quad in 2019.

The residential sector consumed 0.529 quad of wood biomass last year. That volume is expected to fall to 0.52 quad in 2020 and 2021.

Across all sectors, the consumption of waste biomass is expected to be at 0.434 quad this year, up from 0.433 quad in 2019. Consumption of waste biomass is expected to increase to 0.443 quad in 2020. Wood biomass consumption was at 2.297 quad in 2019, and is expected to fall to 2.189 quad this year before increasing to 2.215 quad in 2021.

In the electric power sector biomass generation capacity was at 6,668 megawatts (MW) in 2019, including 3,942 MW of waste biomass capacity and 2,727 MW of wood biomass capacity. By the end of 2020, biomass capacity in the electric power sector is expected to fall to 6,625 MW, including 3,899 MW of waste biomass capacity and 2,727 MW of wood biomass capacity. The sector’s biomass capacity is expected to rebound slightly by the end of 2021, reaching 6,635 MW, including 3,909 MW of waste biomass capacity and 2,727 MW of wood biomass capacity.

Across other sectors, biomass capacity was at 6,424 MW in 2019, including 786 MW of waste biomass capacity and 5,637 MW of wood biomass capacity. Biomass capacity is expected to increase slightly to 6,428 MW by the end of 2020, including 802 MW of wood biomass capacity and 5,626 MW of waste biomass capacity. Those levels of capacity are expected to remain flat through the end of 2021.