Insights from EIA’s September Energy Outlook

The share of US total utility-scale electricity generation from natural gas is expected to fall from an average of 34% in 2016 to about 31% in 2017 as a result of higher natural gas prices and increased generation from renewables and coal, according to the US Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) short-term energy outlook (STEO).

The monthly report also touches on wind and solar. Wind electricity generating capacity at the end of 2016 was 82 gigawatts (GW). EIA expects wind capacity additions in the forecast to bring total wind capacity to 88 GW by the end of 2017 and to 96 GW by the end of 2018. As for solar electricity, the EIA expects solar capacity additions in the forecast will bring total utility-scale solar capacity to 29 GW by the end of 2017 and to 33 GW by the end of 2018, compared to 22 GW for the end of 2016.

After declining 1.7% in 2016, energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are projected to decrease by 0.5% in 2017 and then to increase by 2.6% in 2018. As the EIA states, energy-related CO2 emissions are sensitive to changes in weather, economic growth, and energy prices.

In terms of liquid fuels, US gross refinery runs averaged 14.8 million barrels per day (b/d) the week ending September 1, down by 3.1 million b/d from the previous week (due mostly to Hurricane Harvey). EIA forecasts refinery runs to average 15.3 million b/d in September, down from an estimated average of 17.1 million b/d in August. Refinery runs are forecast to increase to 15.9 million b/d in October.

US dry natural gas production is forecast to average 73.7 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) in 2017, a 1.4 Bcf/d increase from the 2016 level. The EIA expects natural gas production in 2018 to be 4.4 Bcf/d higher than the 2017 level.

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