EIA updates short-term bioenergy forecasts

By Erin Voegele | February 10, 2021

The U.S. Energy Information Administration released the latest edition of its Short-Term Energy Outlook on Feb. 9, predicting electricity generation from renewable sources will reach 21 percent this year, up from 20 percent in 2020. Renewables are expected to account for 23 percent of electricity production in 2022.

The electric power sector generated 27.6 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity from biomass in 2020, including 16.1 billion kWh from waste biomass and 11.5 billion kWh from wood biomass. Biomass generation is expected to increase to 30.8 billion kWh in 2021, including 17 billion kWh from waste biomass and 13.9 billion kWh from wood biomass, and reach 33.8 billion kWh in 2022, including 17.8 billion kWh from waste biomass and 16 billion kWh from wood biomass.

Across other sectors, 28.6 billion kWh of electricity was generated from biomass in 2020, including 2.8 billion kWh from waste biomass and 25.9 billion kWh from wood biomass. Generation in 2021 and 2022 is expected to be at 28.5 billion kWh, including 2.7 billion kWh from waste biomass and 25.8 billion kWh from wood biomass.

The electric power sector is expected to consume 0.251 quadrillion Btu (quad) of waste biomass this year, up from 0.238 quad last year. Consumption of waste biomass is expected to further increase to 0.263 quad in 2022. The sector is also expected to consume 0.224 quad of wood biomass in 2021, up from 0.185 quad in 2020, with consumption expected to increase to 0.259 quad in 2022.

The industrial sector is expected to consume 0.155 quad of waste biomass in both 2021 and 2022, down slightly from 0.156 quad in 2020. The sector consumed 1.381 quad of wood biomass in 2020. That level of consumption is expected to increase to 1.399 quad in 2021 and 1.41 quad in 2022.

The commercial sector consumed 0.036 quad of waste biomass in 2020. That level of consumption is expected to remain flat through 2021 and 2022. The sector is also expected to consume 0.082 quad of wood biomass in 2021 and 2022, down slightly from 0.083 quad in 2020.

The residential sector consumed 0.503 quad of wood biomass last year. That level of consumption is expected to remain flat through 2021 and 2022.

Across all sectors, waste biomass consumption was at 0.43 quad in 2020. Consumption is expected to fall to 0.442 quad this year and rebound to 0.454 quad in 2022. Wood biomass consumption was at 2.153 quad in 2020, with consumption expected to increase to 2.209 quad in 2021 and 2.254 quad in 2022.

The electric power sector had 6,592 megawatts (MW) of biomass power capacity in place at the end of 2020, including 3,865 MW of waste biomass capacity and 2,727 MW of wood biomass capacity. The sector’s total biomass capacity is expected to fall to 6,498 MW by the end of 2021, including 3,914 MW of waste biomass capacity and 2,584 MW of wood biomass capacity. The sector’s total biomass capacity is expected to reach 6,544 MW by the end of 2022, including 3,918 MW of waste biomass capacity and 2,626 MW of wood biomass capacity.

Across other sectors, biomass capacity was at 6,458 MW at the end of 2020, including 802 MW of waste biomass capacity and 5,656 MW of wood biomass capacity. Biomass capacity is expected to fall to 6,440 MW by the end of this year, including 804 MW of waste biomass capacity and 5,636 MW of wood biomass capacity. Biomass capacity is expected to rebound slightly to 6,444 MW by the end of 2022, including 804 MW of waste biomass capacity and 5,641 MW of wood biomass capacity.