Transformation and Reality: Energy and the Economy, 2035

In conjunction with President Obama’s visit to a Home Depot Tuesday to promote retrofitting and energy conservation, Vice President Joe Biden submitted a memo to the President, “Progress Report:  The Transformation to A Clean Energy Economy.” One presumes the memo also serves as a backgrounder for the Vice President’s meeting today with manufacturing executives.

For all the talk of energy and economic transformation, it’s best to remain grounded in reality. On Monday, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) released its draft Annual Energy Outlook 2010 (AEO2010) presenting updated projections for U.S. energy consumption and production through 2035.

Excerpts from the news release:

Moderate Energy Consumption Growth and Greater Use of Renewables:  Total primary energy consumption grows by 14 percent between 2008 and 2035, as the fossil fuel share of total U.S. energy consumption falls from 84 percent to 78 percent (Figure 1). 

Declining Reliance on Imported Liquid Fuels:  Total U.S. consumption of liquid fuels, including both fossil liquids and biofuels, grows from 19 million barrels per day in 2008 to 22 million barrels per day in 2035. Biofuels account for all of the growth, as consumption of petroleum-based liquids is essentially flat.  As a result, reliance on imported oil declines significantly over the next 25 years (Figure 2).

Shale Gas Drives Growth in Natural Gas Production and Reduces Reliance on Imported Gas:  Total domestic natural gas production grows from 20.6 trillion cubic feet in 2008 to 23.3 trillion cubic feet in 2035. With technology improvements and rising natural gas prices, natural gas production from shale grows to 6 trillion cubic feet in 2035, more than offsetting declines in conventional production (Figure 3).

Energy-Related Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Emissions Continue to Grow, Assuming No New Policies:  CO2 emissions from energy grow at 0.3 percent per year, assuming no new policies to reduce energy-related CO2 emissions.  Total energy-related CO2 emissions grow from 5,814 million metric tons in 2008 to 6,320 million metric tons in 2035, although per capita emissions fall by 0.6 percent per yearMost of the CO2 growth in the AEO2010 reference case is accounted for by the electric power and transportation sectors (Figure 4).

So fossil fuel use will remain essential for U.S. economic growth.

For the EIA’s full presentation go here.

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