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.But, for a fascinating assessment of why that may not be the case, see The Future of Natural Gas
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.