EIA predicts increased energy generation from renewables

By Erin Voegele | April 10, 2014

The U.S. Energy Information Administration has published the April issue of its Short-Term Energy Outlook, which includes forecasts for bioenergy production and the use of wood in home heating applications.

Within the report, the EIA notes that periods of extreme cold in the Midwest and Northeast this winter caused spikes in wholesale electricity prices at certain times of peak demand. Cold weather also caused electricity consumption to increase by an estimated 4.3 percent during the first quarter of 2014. Retail growth in the residential sector was especially strong, with an estimated 7.3 percent increase. EIA projects residential sales during the second and third quarters will be 0.6 percent higher than last summer.

The EIA projects total U.S. electricity generation will average 11.3 terawatt hours (TWh) per day this year, up 1.8 percent from last year. Coal is expected to fuel 40.3 percent of this generation, with natural gas fueling 26.5 percent.

The use of renewables for electricity and heat generation is expected to grow by 3.7 percent this year. Next year, projected renewables consumption for electric power and heat generation increases by 3 percent.

Wood biomass is expected to be used to generate 118,000 MWh per day of electricity this year, increasing to 122 MWh per day next year. Waste biomass is expected to generate 56 MWh per day this year, increasing to 57 MWh per day in 2015.

The electric power sector is expected to consume 0.258 quadrillion Btu (quad) of biomass this year, increasing to 02.73 quad next year. The sector is also forecast to consume 0.267 quad of waste biomass this year, increasing to 0.274 quad in 2015.

The industrial sector is expected to be the largest consumer of wood biomass, with an estimated 1.247 quad consumed this year and 1.260 quad consumed in 2015. The sector is also expected to consume 0.179 quad of waste biomass this year, increasing to 0.182 quad next year.

The EIA predicts the commercial sector will consume 0.072 quad of wood biomass this year, increasing to 0.075 quad in 2015. In addition, the sector will consume an estimated 0.047 quad of waste biomass in both 2014 and 2015.

The residential sector is expected to consume approximately 0.414 quad of wood biomass this year and 0.407 quad next year.

Across all sectors, the U.S. is expected to consume 1.989 quad of wood biomass this year, increasing to 2.016 quad next year. The consumption of waste biomass is also expected to increase, from 0.493 quad in 2014 to 0.503 quad in 2015.