- After declining for three consecutive years, the U.S. Energy Information Administration's most recent Short Term Energy Outlook predicts carbon dioxide emissions from the electric power sector will rise 2.1% next year, as coal takes back some market share it had lost to natural gas.
- As gas prices have risen, coal generation has staged a comeback. Coal's generation share will rise from 30% last year to 31% in 2017, while EIA predicts gas' share will drop from 34% in 2016 to about 31% this year.
- Excluding hydro resources, EIA says generation from renewable energy sources will grow from 8% in
2016, to a forecast share of about 9% this year, and then up to 10% in 2018. Nuclear generation
accounts for almost 20% of total energy produced in each year from 2016 through 2018.
The expected rise in CO2 emissions comes after several years of decline, though it is not just one factor at play. "Energy-related CO2 emissions are sensitive to changes in weather, economic growth, and energy prices," EIA said.
Higher gas prices have led to something of a resurgence in coal: In addition to taking back some ground on generation, production for the first 10 months of 2017 is estimated to be 10% higher than last year. Looking ahead, gas and coal generation in 2018 will produce 32% and 31%, respectively, of the country's electricity.
Wind resources are expected to show big gains in the next couple of years. Wind generating capacity at the end of 2016 was 82 GW, but EIA expects wind capacity additions in the forecast to bring capacity to 88 GW by
the end of this year, and to 96 GW by the end of 2018.
The agency also estimates total utility-scale solar electricity generating capacity at the end of 2016 was 22 GW, and expects capacity additions to raise total utility-scale solar capacity to 27 GW by the end of 2017 and to 31 GW by the end of 2018.
Those figures, however, are a decrease from EIA's past STEO. The agency in September had predicted capacity to reach 29 GW by the end of this year and 33 GW by the end of 2018.
Exports of liquefied natural gas last month increased from September, as the Gulf Coast region recovered from hurricane-related service disruptions. But despite growing export demand and below-average storage injections, "factors that could contribute to upward pressure on prices ... front-month futures prices remained in a narrow trading range."
The Henry Hub natural gas spot price averaged $2.88/MMBtu in October, a dime lower than it did in September.