(Adds 2018 supply and demand)
Dec 12 (Reuters) - U.S. dry natural gas production was forecast to rise to 73.55 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) in 2017 from 72.85 bcfd in 2016, according to the Energy Information Administration's (EIA) Short Term Energy Outlook (STEO) on Tuesday.
The latest December output projection was up from the EIA's 73.45-bcfd forecast in November but falls short of the record high 74.14 bcfd produced on average in 2015.
The EIA also projected U.S. gas consumption would fall nearly 2 percent to 73.71 bcfd in 2017 from a record 75.10 bcfd in 2016. The 2016 high was the seventh annual demand record in a row.
That 2017 consumption projection in the December STEO report was up from the EIA's 73.06-bcfd forecast for the year in its November report.
Both production and consumption would jump to record highs in 2018 with output hitting 81.34 bcfd and usage reaching 76.85 bcfd, the EIA forecast.
In electric generation, the EIA projected gas will remain the primary U.S. power plant fuel in 2017 and 2018 after taking that title from coal for the first time ever in 2016. Coal had been the primary fuel for U.S. generators for the last century.
The EIA projected gas' share of generation would average 31.6 percent in 2017, down from 33.8 percent in 2016 due to higher fuel costs and rising output from renewable energy sources. In 2018, it said gas' share of generation will rise to 32.3 percent in 2018.
Coal's share of generation was forecast to edge up to 30.5 percent in 2017 and 30.7 percent in 2018, up from 30.4 percent in 2016.
Wind power capacity was expected to rise to 88 gigawatts by the end of 2017 and 96 GW by the end of 2018, from about 81 GW in 2016.
The EIA said it expects solar power capacity to rise to 43 GW by the end of 2017 and 50 GW by the end of 2018 from 34 GW in 2016.
After declining by 1.7 percent in 2016, the EIA projected U.S. energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions will decline by 0.8 percent to 5,147 million tonnes in 2017, the least since 1992.
CO2 emissions would increase by 1.8 percent to 5,239 million tonnes in 2018 due to changes in weather, economic growth, and energy prices, the EIA said. (Reporting by Scott DiSavino Editing by Marguerita Choy)