Monday, May 28, 2012

Fuel Sources for U.S. Energy Demand to 2035

According to the latest forecasts from the Department of Energy in its latest Annual Energy Outlook, the fossil fuel (coal, natural gas and oil) share of energy consumption will fall only slightly in the future, from 83 percent of total U.S. energy demand in 2010 to 77 percent in 2035 (see chart).  On the other hand, the future of renewables is not looking so bright, in terms of its future contribution to America's energy demand.  In 2010, renewables (wood, municipal waste, biomass, and hydroelectricity in the end-use sectors; hydroelectricity, geothermal, municipal solid waste, biomass, solar, and wind for generation in the electric power sector; and ethanol for gasoline blending and biomass-based diesel in the transportation sector), contributed only about 7% of U.S. energy consumption, and that was less than the 8.9% share back in 1983.  Even by 2035, more than twenty years from now, renewables as a fuel source are expected to provide less than 11% of total energy demand.

Bottom Line: The scientific and economic reality (and even the government's own forecasts support this) is that affordable and reliable hydrocarbons will continue to be the major source of energy that will fuel America's economy well into the future, despite Obama's embrace of alternative energies as the “energies of the future,” and his dismissal of oil as a "fuel of the past." Hydrocarbon energy is America’s future, and it’s the energy treasures beneath our feet that will continue to power the U.S. economy for many generations to come.

15 Comments:

At 5/28/2012 12:09 PM, Blogger Les Johnson said...

Mark: A small point, but your 8.9% of renewables to all energy in 1982 does not include biofuel or renewables in "All Energy".

If you sum the entire row, then divide renewables into that, I get 8.2%.

I see that is the way its calculate in row 37.

 
At 5/28/2012 12:09 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

oh contraire!

30 years ago how many folks for-saw "fracking" or smart phones or twitter or GPS "tracking".

that's a long time to believe that there will be no breakthroughs in renewable technology - at all.

Other technologies, no doubt, will continue to explode... so to bet that renewables alone will stand still seems far fetched.

 
At 5/28/2012 12:46 PM, Blogger Buddy R Pacifico said...

Oil may not be the fuel of past but natural gas could be the fuel of the future.

Compressed Natural Gas use in local truck fleets will likely soar. Accelerometers can manage improved combustion in internal combustion engines using natural gas.

 
At 5/28/2012 1:30 PM, Blogger Mark J. Perry said...

Sorry, the 8.9% of renewables is for 1983, not 1982; the post has been updated to reflect that change.

 
At 5/28/2012 2:07 PM, Blogger Brandon Carver said...

Well, I agree with Larry G. I think your projection is based on everything as it is, and is accurate provided that nothing major happens. Be that a new discovery, changes in the law, what have you.

If concrete laws are not put into place that call for the stopping or significant decrease of production of these biofules, than your chart will most like be proven true.

 
At 5/28/2012 2:23 PM, Blogger joshua said...

Confused. Why does The Economist cite data that renewables are up to 12%?

 
At 5/28/2012 2:34 PM, Blogger Mark J. Perry said...

The Economist is citing fuel sources for Electricity Generation only, I'm using EIA data on fuel sources for TOTAL energy consumption.

 
At 5/28/2012 2:54 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"Oil may not be the fuel of past but natural gas could be the fuel of the future"...

Hmmm, I know 20 years ago natural gas for internal combustion engines was occassionally problematic in very cold termperature environments....

I'm wondering how that little problem is coming along?

 
At 5/28/2012 8:41 PM, Blogger Bruce Oksol - oksol@yahoo.com said...

With regard to natural gas and cold environments...."global warming" will take care of that little problem....smile.

 
At 5/29/2012 9:36 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

Other technologies, no doubt, will continue to explode... so to bet that renewables alone will stand still seems far fetched.

Not at all. It is far easier to imagine breakthroughs in nuclear or to bet on cheap coal generation, or even methane hydrates then to see how the laws of thermodynamics can be legislated out of existence by the alternative energy people and their political allies. The problem for the alternative energy crowd is the active concentration and transport of very diffuse energy.

 
At 5/29/2012 9:44 AM, Blogger Larry G said...

" Not at all. It is far easier to imagine breakthroughs..."

well the point is that we have a chronic inability to predict the future innovations....

and we do know this - fossil fuels are finite resources and while the argument about how long they'll last will never go away- we know that getting what's left is more and more difficult - just consider what we are going through now to get oil from tar sands and shale.

I accept the idea that for any given technology there can be a substantial gap between theoretical efficiency and actual-real world - for example the modern ICE engine is still not THAT efficient compared to the theoretical number.

but solar IMO has a huge potential in terms of both higher efficiencies and lower prices and I think it folly to think that nothing of any consequence will happen in that field in the next 30 years.

Your point about nuclear may also happen with thorium or other related technologies and it could be true that in the future - every community will have a thorium ( or equivalent innovation) power source.

vehicles may well not run on on-board generated renewable power, i.e. roof solar panels but of late..this is talk of solar paint.... so who knows?

 
At 5/29/2012 9:46 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

Well, I agree with Larry G. I think your projection is based on everything as it is, and is accurate provided that nothing major happens.

Something major has happened. Taxpayers and consumers are upset at governments that enriched special interest groups pushing very expensive energy generation are are getting fed up with the exploding energy bills. Pretty soon the subsidies will stop and the mandates will have to go away. At that point we will be back to coal, gas, and nuclear as the primary hope for electricity generation.

Be that a new discovery, changes in the law, what have you.

Governments are going bankrupt and failing all over the globe. Serious people have no time for political BS and promises of a future utopia when there are cheaper solutions available. That means that the green industry will not be able to rip off consumers for that much longer.

If concrete laws are not put into place that call for the stopping or significant decrease of production of these biofules, than your chart will most like be proven true.

I think you got it backwards. It is laws that are making possible the biofuel production because they force energy companies to purchase them from producers at a price that they cannot justify. Biofuels are not economic and the industry will shrink without the laws that mandate their use.

 
At 5/29/2012 9:52 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

but solar IMO has a huge potential in terms of both higher efficiencies and lower prices and I think it folly to think that nothing of any consequence will happen in that field in the next 30 years.

I heard the same story 30 years ago so you will excuse me if I remain skeptical. Other than for niche off-grid applications solar makes absolutely no sense for anyone. The industry would not be as large without massive subsidies and mandates. But as I wrote above, those are coming to an end.

Your point about nuclear may also happen with thorium or other related technologies and it could be true that in the future - every community will have a thorium ( or equivalent innovation) power source.

That is far more likely than making solar work as you have hoped.

vehicles may well not run on on-board generated renewable power, i.e. roof solar panels but of late..this is talk of solar paint.... so who knows?

Your ignorance is astounding. How much energy do you think there is in the light that hits the car even if the paint is very very efficient? And how do you get the electrons to where you want them to go? How much will all this cost in terms of energy, scarce resources, and money?

We do not live in the world of fairy tales. We live on this planet and down here reality is very important.

 
At 5/29/2012 10:01 AM, Blogger Larry G said...

" That is far more likely than making solar work as you have hoped."

I'm not "hoping".. pragmatic.. Solar is what it is ..and not know, not ever will be the sole solution.

re: ignorance and fairy tales.

my words were: " vehicles may well not run ...but..."

and if solar paint can recharge onboard batteries... who knows ..

is it totally impossible for high efficiency solar to produce enough energy to move a vehicle?

well.. there are solar air vehicles ,right?

 
At 5/29/2012 12:51 PM, Blogger juandos said...

""global warming" will take care of that little problem"...

Hmmm, good point! Ha! Ha! Ha!

 

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home