. . . and Primary Energy Consumption.

By Editors

In EIA's projections, overall energy consumption grows at a slower pace than electrical consumption, although the patterns are similar.  On this graph, the time axis is again 1980 to 2040 and the vertical axis represents energy sources in quadrillion BTUs (quads).

Consumption actually dipped below 100 quads in the last few years due to the recession. EIA projects it will rise again but slowly, not even reaching 110 quads by 2040. This is very much slower than the steep climb from 1980 to 2008. And that period represented a slowing of the growth rate from the previous twenty years.

Once again natural gas leads the expansion but the change is not dramatic. Natural gas's portion climbs only from 26 to 28 percent by 2040. Renewables expand only from 8 to 11 percent and nuclear expands even more slowly from 8 to 9 percent. I this graph EIA breaks out a separate category for liquid biofuels – corn ethanol and biodiesel – and that expands from 1 percent today to 2 percent over the period.  Coal’s output expands very slightly but its share falls from 20 to 19 percent.

Interestingly, oil consumption remains almost perfectly flat throughout, its proportion shrinking from 36 to 32 percent. This is despite the anticipated increase in production from tight oil. What is happening is that domestic production is replacing imports.  Overall our dependence on oil declines slightly due to the development of natural gas and electric vehicles and other alternatives.

There is one caveat here. EIA's projected changes are much less dramatic than those of the past 30 years. This does not indicate there will be any decline in volatility.  It simply suggests that EIA's projections are very conservative and could be wildly disrupted by unexpected technological developments.

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