EIA: Electricity generation will decline 1% this year before rebounding in 2018
While the long-term direction of the utility power mix is toward renewables and away from fossil fuels, recent energy market shakeups have numbers jumping around a bit.
Gas traded at historically low prices last year, forcing some coal out of the market. But despite a rash of plant closures, an expected rise in gas prices will send coal generation above gas this winter season.
EIA Acting Administrator Howard Gruenspecht said this winter’s warm weather “is cutting into U.S. natural gas demand, with natural gas consumption during February expected to be the lowest for the month in eight years.”
But also: “While U.S. total electricity generation is expected to decline almost 1% this year, the share of coal-fired generation is forecast to increase.” Coal production was already cut back over the last two years, and so the expected rise in demand will result in a sharp uptick of about 4%.
Wind capacity ended last year at 81 GW, and EIA said it expects that to rise to 95 GW by the end of 2018.
The report predicts utility-scale solar capacity will rise 44% from the end of last year to 31 GW by the end of 2018. That would make solar energy 1.4% of total utility-scale electricity generation in 2018, EIA said.