Total U.S. electricity generation from utility-scale power plants averaged 11,145 gigawatthours per day in 2016. Forecast U.S. generation declines by 1.2% in 2017, which mostly reflects expectations of milder temperatures in the third quarter of 2017 compared with the same period last year. Forecast generation grows by 1.8% in 2018 based largely on a forecast of colder temperatures during the first quarter 2018 compared with the same period in 2017 and on the expectation of a growing economy.
EIA expects the share of U.S. total utility-scale electricity generation from natural gas to fall from an average of 34% in 2016 to about 31% in 2017 as a result of higher natural gas prices, increased generation from renewables and coal, and lower electricity demand. Coal’s forecast generation share rises from 30% last year to almost 32% in 2017. The projected generation shares for natural gas and coal are nearly identical in 2018, averaging between 31% and 32%.
Wind electricity generating capacity at the end of 2016 was 81 gigawatts (GW). EIA expects wind capacity additions in the forecast will bring total wind capacity to 88 GW by the end of 2017 and to 102 GW by the end of 2018.
Total utility-scale solar electricity generating capacity at the end of 2016 was 22 GW. 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 32 GW by the end of 2018.