Renewables and Carbon Dioxide Emissions

Electricity and Heat Generation from Renewables

EIA expects total renewables used in the electric power sector to increase by 10.5% in 2016 and by 4.3% in 2017. Forecast hydropower generation in the electric power sector increases by 7.8% in 2016 and then falls by 2.0% in 2017. Consumption of renewable energy other than hydropower in the electric power sector is forecast to grow by 12.9% in 2016 and by 9.6% in 2017.
EIA expects that utility-scale solar capacity will grow by 8.0 gigawatts (GW) (60%) in 2016 and by 5.3 GW (25%) in 2017. The projected amount of solar capacity at the end of next year, 26.7 GW, would be nearly double the amount of capacity existing at the end of 2015. States leading in utility-scale solar capacity additions are California, Nevada, North Carolina, Texas, and Georgia. Forecast utility-scale solar generation averages 1% of total U.S. electricity generation in 2017.
U.S. wind capacity totaled 72.5 GW at the end of 2015, more than five times the amount of solar capacity. Wind capacity is expected to increase by 7.5 GW (10%) in 2016 and by 8.5 GW (11%) in 2017. Forecast wind generation accounts for almost 6% of total generation next year.

Liquid Biofuels

On November 30, 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized a rule setting Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) volumes for 2014 through 2016. On May 18, 2016, EPA released the proposed RFS volumes for 2017 along with finalized biomass-based diesel volumes for 2017. EIA used both the final and proposed volumes to develop the current STEO forecast through 2017. Ethanol production averaged almost 970,000 b/d in 2015, and it is forecast to average about 980,000 b/d in 2016 and 2017. Ethanol consumption averaged about 910,000 b/d in 2015, and it is forecast to average about 930,000 b/d in both 2016 and 2017. This level of consumption results in the ethanol share of the total gasoline pool averaging 10.0% in both 2016 and 2017.
EIA expects that the largest effect of the RFS targets will be on biomass-based diesel consumption, which includes both biodiesel and renewable diesel and helps to meet the RFS targets for use of biomass-based diesel, advanced biofuel, and total renewable fuel. Biodiesel production averaged 82,000 b/d in 2015, and it is forecast to average 99,000 b/d in 2016 and 106,000 b/d in 2017. Net imports of biomass-based diesel are expected to rise from 29,000 b/d in 2015 to 41,000 b/d in 2016 and to 47,000 b/d in 2017. EIA assumes about 10,000 b/d of domestic renewable diesel consumption will be used to help meet the biomass-based diesel and advanced biofuels RFS targets in both 2016 and 2017.

Energy-Related Carbon Dioxide Emissions

EIA estimates that energy-related emissions of carbon dioxide decreased by 2.7% in 2015. Emissions are forecast to decrease by 1.5% in 2016 and then increase by 0.8% in 2017. These forecasts are sensitive to assumptions about weather and economic growth.