Monday, July 9, 2012

US Energy Outlook and other energy matters

The US Energy Information Agency has released the 2012 US Energy Outlook which contains a variety of projections about US energy use to 2035. The basic structure of the analysis involves comparison of the 'reference case' (the continuation of current policies) with various alternative scenarios based on alternative sets of assumptions (e.g., allowing existing regulations with sunset provisions to expire, new regulatory regimes, technological developments, different price scenarios, etc.). The base scenario for 2035 is pretty rosy --- predicting growth in energy consumption will average 0.3%  per year, despite a 25% growth in population and an almost doubling of GDP over the same period.

I was intending to write up my thoughts, but time intervened and Tom Fuller  has saved me the effort by taking up the challenge in a series of posts over at 3000 Quads (with the promise of more to come): The DoE's Daring Assumptions, U.S. Energy Consumption in 2035: Analyzing the DOE’s Projections, and How The DOE Thinks We’ll Save Energy Through 2035. Here is the main take away of Tom's analysis -- a point I share entirely. Following a listing of the various policy iniatives and global events the report outlines (e.g., improved emissions and fuel consumption standards for automobiles and trucks, a decline in US manufacturing after 2020 as a result of increased global competition, reduced residential energy use resulting from improved technology, etc), Tom concludes:
... if you postulated any one of these to me I would say it’s well within the realm of possibility. However, if anyone were to tell me that all of these were sure enough bets to make policy decisions on, I would start to shake my head in dismay. That’s more than a Green Trifecta. It would be like winning the lottery on successive days.

One thing that is not explicit in the report but seems to really drive a lot of their thinking–a core assumption seems to be that energy will get more expensive–expensive enough to justify the wholesale changes they are predicting.
But, for a fascinating assessment of why that may not be the case, see The Future of Natural Gas

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the link. I'd like to know more about what you all are up to.