UPDATE 1-U.S. power use to slide in 2023 from record high on weaker economic activity
(Adds more details about renewables capacity)
Feb 7 (Reuters) - U.S. power consumption will ease in 2023 as weaker economic activity and milder weather drag it from record highs hit in 2022, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said in its Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO) on Tuesday.
The statistical arm of the U.S. Department of Energy projected power demand will slide from a record 4,045 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) in 2022 to 3,999 billion kWh in 2023, before rising to 4,063 billion kWh in 2024 as economic growth ramps up.
That compares with an eight-year low of 3,856 billion kWh in 2020 when the coronavirus pandemic depressed demand.
The EIA projected 2023 power sales would ease to 1,475 billion kWh for residential consumers, 1,373 billion kWh for commercial customers, and 1,001 billion kWh for the industrial sector.
That compares with all-time highs of 1,516 billion kWh for residential consumers in 2022, 1,382 billion kWh in 2018 for commercial customers and 1,064 billion kWh in 2000 for industrial customers.
Projected 2023 gas sales would slide to 13.41 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) for residential consumers, 9.54 bcfd for commercial customers, 22.81 bcfd for industrial customers and 32.38 bcfd for power generation, the EIA said.
That compares with all-time highs of 14.32 bcfd in 1996 for residential consumers, 9.67 bcfd in 2022 for commercial customers, 23.80 bcfd in 1973 for industrial customers and 33.24 bcfd in 2022 for power generation.
Wind and solar are expected to replace coal and U.S. fossil fuel electricity generation in the next two years.
Natural gas' share of power generation would hold at 39% in 2023, the same as 2022, before sliding to 37% in 2024, the EIA said. Coal's share will drop from 20% in 2022 to 17% in 2023 and 2024 as renewable output rises.
The percentage of renewable generation will jump from 22% in 2022 to 24% in 2023 and 26% in 2024. Nuclear power's share will rise from 19% in 2022 to 20% in 2023 before sliding to 19% in 2024.
U.S. power generators have announced plans to increase solar capacity by 43%, or 32 gigawatts this year, which would be the largest jump in that type of capacity since 2016.
In 2024, solar power generation is expect to leap by another 30%, the EIA said, as incentives by the Biden administration are expected ramp up.
Wind capacity is projected to rise 5% each of the next two years, to 6 and 7 gigawatts, the EIA said. (Reporting by Scott DiSavino; additional reporting by Laila Kearney Editing by Marguerita Choy)