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EIA: Solar Growth Ahead
Stand by for a huge jump in solar power and a rally by coal.
 Solar Array Photo By: Michael W. Kahn

In its latest Short-Term Energy Outlook, EIA sees big growth in solar. (Photo By: Michael W. Kahn)

That's the word from the Energy Information Administration in its Short-Term Energy Outlook.

"On a percentage basis, solar power is expected to be the fastest growing renewable energy source in the forecast period, with total utility-scale capacity increasing by 44 percent from the end of 2016 to 31 gigawatts at the end of 2018," EIA said. "With that level of growth, solar is expected to account for 1.4 percent of total utility-scale electricity generation in 2018."

The report, issued March 7, also sees wind energy capacity climbing from 81 GW at the end of last year to 95 GW when 2018 comes to a close.

As for coal, EIA expects growth in coal-based electricity generation to contribute to a 4 percent increase in coal production this year, with production remaining level next year.

EIA estimates the delivered coal price averaged $2.11 per million Btu last year, a 5 percent decline from the 2015 price. "Coal prices are forecast to increase in 2017 and 2018 to $2.17/MMBtu and $2.21/MMBtu, respectively," the report added.

What does all of this mean for natural gas?

"EIA expects the share of U.S. total utility-scale electricity generation from natural gas to fall from an average of 34 percent in 2016 to 32 percent in 2017 as a result of higher expected natural gas prices," the report said.

And while the outlook sees natural gas prices rising this year, it noted that "in February, the average Henry Hub natural gas spot price fell by 45 cents per million British thermal units from the January levels to $2.85/MMBtu." EIA credited "unseasonably warm temperatures in the Lower 48 states."

On another matter, if you've been paying more to fill your car, just wait until summer. The report sees the average price of a gallon of regular going from $2.30 last month to $2.51 in July. Your holiday present will be the $2.24 a gallon EIA predicts by December.








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