EIA sees fossil fuels well on top till 2035

Despite all the stress existing policies are putting on energy efficiency and alternative fuels, together with higher energy prices – which combine to curb energy consumption growth and shift the energy mix toward renewable fuels – fossil fuels will still provide 78 percent of all energy used in 2035.

The forecast, somewhat negative, comes from the comments made by U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) Administrator Richard Newell as the US agency released its Annual Energy Outlook 2010 (AEO2010 ).

These reference case projections do not include the effects of potential future policies that have not yet become law, and only include technologies that are commercially available or can reasonably be expected to become commercially available over roughly the next decade.

The agency sees the U.S. crude oil production increase from 5 million barrels per day in 2008 to over 6 million barrels per day in 2027, level it will keep through 2035. Growth in crude oil production results from increases in offshore production and in onshore production using enhanced oil recovery techniques.

Natural gas and renewable power plants account for the majority of electricity generating capacity additions. The natural gas share falls slightly due to the completion of coal plants under construction, and the addition of new renewable capacity. However, by 2035 the share of generation from natural gas again increases to 21 percent. Renewable generation shows the strongest growth between now and 2035, spurred by incentive programs in more than half the States. The renewable share of generation grows from 9 percent of generation in 2008 to 17 percent of generation in 2035.

Total electricity consumption, including both purchases from electric power producers and on-site generation, grows by 1 percent per year over the projection period, from 3,873 billion kilowatthours in 2008 to 5,021 billion kilowatthours in 2035.

Some key findings from the report:

  • 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
  • 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.
  • 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 production3 .

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 year. Most of the CO2 growth in the AEO2010 reference case is accounted for by the electric power and transportation sectors.


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