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Growth in US Energy Production Outstripping Growth in Consumption

In a recently released report, the Annual Energy Outlook 2013 (AEO2013), the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) projected the US energy markets through 2040. Their projections only take into account the effects of policies that have already been implemented in law or final regulations. The EIA found that the growth in energy production has outweighed the growth in consumption. This is due to many factors including rising crude oil and natural gas production through advanced technologies, new fuel economy requirements, and the increase in renewable fuels such as solar and wind. The result, EIA predicts, will be lower net CO2 emissions, five percent below the 2005 levels through 2040.

The following are some of the key findings from the AEO2013 Report:

Rising Crude Oil Production. Continuing improvement of advanced technologies will continue to increase domestic supply. Production will grow annually at an average 234 thousand barrels per day (bpd) from 2011 to 2019, when it will reach 7.5 million bpd. The majority of growth will come from shale and other tight formations. After 2020, production will decline by 2040 to 6.1 million bpd as all of the “sweet spots” are depleted.

Stricter Fuel Economy Standards. The corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards are set to increase for light duty vehicles from 32.6 mpg in 2011, to 47.3 mpg in 2025. The increased efficiency will reduce gasoline consumption in the transportation sector by 0.5 million bpd in 2025, and by 1 million bpd in 2035. Plus, the use of natural gas fuels for heavy duty vehicles is expected to increase, offsetting a portion of diesel fuel consumption.

Natural Gas Boom Makes US a Larger Exporter. By 2020, the US is predicted to become a net exporter of natural gas as it will outpace domestic consumption. Most of the increase will come from shale gas production.

Renewable Fuel Use Grows Faster than Fossil Fuel Use. The EIA predicts that electricity generation from renewables will grow from 13 percent in 2011 to 16 percent in 2040. Cost declines will make solar and wind more economical over time. Biomass fuels on the other hand, are expected to not rise as much and will unlikely capture a growing share of the liquid fuels market.

CO2 Emissions Remain Below 2005 Levels in 2040. Since 2005, the projected growth in CO2 emissions has been declining. Shifts in consumer behavior, CAFE standards, and biofuel mandates are all factors. Coal-fired power plants are giving way to lower-carbon fuels for electricity production. Plus, the implementation of efficiency standards for energy-using equipment will result in lower emissions per capita.

EIA Adminstrator Adam Sieminski summarizes, “EIA’s updated Reference case shows how evolving consumer preferences, improved technology, and economic changes are pushing the nation toward more domestic energy production, greater vehicle efficiency, greater use of clean energy and reduced energy imports. This combination has markedly reduced projected energy-related carbon dioxide emissions.”

Article by David A. Gabel, appearing courtesy Environmental News Network.