EIA releases its Annual Energy Outlook 2011

By Erin Voegele | April 28, 2011

The U.S. Energy Information Administration released the full version of its Annual Energy Outlook 2011 (AEO2011) report on April 26. The report addresses a wide variety of energy markets and industries, including those related to biofuels.

Key findings of the report project that the U.S. will be less reliant on imported liquid fuels in the future. This is primarily attributed to increased domestic production of fuels—including biofuels—and greater fuel efficiency. According to information released by the EIA, total U.S. consumption of liquid fuels, including both fossil and biofuels, is expected to increase from approximately 18.8 million barrels per day in 2009 to 21.9 million barrels per day in 2035. “The import share, which reached 60 percent in 2005 and 2006 before falling to 51 percent in 2009, falls to 42 percent in 2035,” said the EIA in a press release.

The report states that the AEO2011 reference case projects that the aggregate fossil fuel share of total energy use will fall by about 5 percent in the next 25 years, from 83 percent in 2009 to 78 percent in 2035. During this time, the renewable share of total energy use is expected to increase from 8 percent 2009 to 13 percent in 2035. The EIA states that the increase is primarily a result of the RFS program, federal tax credits for renewable electricity generation and state renewable portfolio standards.

Regarding markets for biofuel, the EIA states in the report that nearly all liquid biofuels are expected to be used in the transportation sector. “Biodiesel blended into diesel, E85 fuel, and ethanol blended into motor gasoline account for 54 percent of the growth in liquid fuel consumption from 2009 to 2035,” said the report.

The AEO2011 also addresses biobased electricity production, noting that most biomass power will be produced at biorefineries. “Biomass generating capacity grows from 7 gigawatts in 2009 to 20.2 gigawatts in 2035,” states the report. “All the growth in biomass capacity occurs in the end-use sectors, mainly at biorefineries, where electricity generation capacity increases as a result of mandates in the federal RFS that require increased use of biofuels. No growth occurs in dedicated biomass generating capacity, because dedicated open-loop biomass plants remain too expensive to compete successfully with renewable capacity.”

The report also addresses GHG emissions. The reference case the AEO2011 is based on assumes no explicit regulations to limit GHG emissions will be developed beyond the vehicle GHG standards that have already been established. The report projects that energy-related carbon dioxide emissions will not return to the 2005 level of 5,996 million metric tons until 2027. In fact, the EIA estimates that CO2 emissions will grow by an average of 0.6 percent per year from 2009 to 2027, which accounts for a 10.6 percent total increase. The administration further estimates that CO2 emissions ill increase by an additional 5 percent from 2027 to 2035, which equates to 6,311 million metric tons by 2035.