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EIA expects US electricity consumption to increase 3% in 2021 as the economy recovers

A wind farm shares space with corn fields the day before the Iowa Caucuses in Latimer, Iowa, USA, on February 2, 2020, where agriculture and clean energy are key issues. REUTERS / Jonathan Ernst / File Photo

Nov. 9 (Reuters) – U.S. electricity consumption is set to grow about 3% in 2021 as the economy grows after last year’s devastation of coronavirus demand, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said Tuesday.

In its Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO), the electricity demand forecast by the EIA will rise to 3,921 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) in 2021 and 3,942 billion kWh in 2022.

This is offset by an 11-year low of 3,802 billion kWh in 2020 and an all-time high of 4,003 billion kWh in 2018, burdened by the coronavirus.

EIA projected that electricity sales would soar to a record high of 1.490 billion kWh for residential consumers in 2021 as ongoing COVID concerns result in more people working from home, 1.319 billion kWh for commercial customers and 981 billion kWh for industrial customers.

This compares to current all-time highs of 1.469 billion kWh in 2018 for residential customers, 1.382 billion kWh in 2018 for commercial customers and 1,064 billion kWh in 2000 for industrial customers.

According to the EIA, if gas prices rise, the share of natural gas in electricity generation will decrease from 39% in 2020 to 36% in 2021 and 35% in 2022. The share of coal will increase from 20% in 2020 to 23% in 2021 before falling to 22% in 2022.

The share of nuclear generation will decrease from 21% in 2020 to 20% in 2021 and 2022, while renewables will remain at 20% in 2021, as in 2020, before increasing to 22% in 2022.

The EIA projected natural gas sales to grow to 13.20 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) for residential customers, 9.18 billion cubic feet per day for commercial customers and 22.62 billion cubic feet per day in 2021.

These are all-time highs of 14.36 billion cubic feet in 1996 for residential customers, 9.63 billion cubic feet in 2018 for commercial customers, 23.80 billion cubic feet in 1973 for industrial customers, and 31.74 billion cubic feet in 2020 compared to electricity generation.

Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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