EIA releases Annual Energy Outlook 2013 reference case

By Erin Voegele | December 05, 2012

The U.S. Energy Information Administration has published Annual Energy Outlook 2013 Early Release Overview. The document is an abridged version of the Annual Energy Outlook that highlights changes made to the Annual Energy Outlook reference case from the prior year. According to the EIA, the reference case includes projections for the U.S. energy market through 2040, and takes into account only policies that have been enacted through law and final regulations. The full AEO2013 is scheduled for release in the spring.

Overall, the reference case predicts that total primary energy consumption will grow by 7 percent, from 98 quadrillion Btu in 2011 to 104 quadrillion Btu in 2035. This is 2.5 quadrillion Btu less than the growth assumed in the 2012 Annual Energy Outlook. In addition, the fossil fuel share of energy consumption falls from 82 percent in 2011 to 78 percent in 2040, a drop primarily attributed to new fuel efficiency standards for light duty vehicles.

Regarding renewable fuels, the updated reference case predicts that renewable fuel use will grow at a much faster rate than fossil fuel use.

Overall growth in liquid fuels consumption is expected to fall, but consumption of biofuel is expected to increase from 1.3 quadrillion Btu in 2011 to 2.1 quadrillion Btu in 2040. The total share of biofuel in liquid fuel consumption is expected to increase from 3.5 percent in 2011 to 5.8 percent in 2040. The increase is much smaller than predicted in the 2012 Annual Energy Outlook. The EIA attributes the decrease to diminished flex fuel vehicle penetration, a smaller gasoline pool for ethanol blending, and reduced production of cellulosic biofuels. 

The share of electrical production from all renewable sources is projected to increase from 13 percent of power generation in 2011 to 16 percent in 2040. Excluding hydroelectricity, renewable energy consumption in the electric power sector is predicted to grow from 1.6 quadrillion Btu in 2011 to 4.5 quadrillion Btu in 2040. Biomass is expected to account for 24 percent of that growth.

A full version of the AEO2013 reference case can be downloaded from the EIA website. The full Annual Energy Outlook 2013 report, scheduled for release in early 2013, will include expanded projections that take into account differing assumptions for the price of oil, the rate of economic growth, and the characteristics of new technologies. It will also include regional projections.