Monday, January 23, 2012

EIA's latest energy projections for the US

The EIA today released their abridged version of the 2012 Annual Energy Outlook. Here are three key highlights.

1. Net US consumption of "liquid fossil fuels" in the US is expected to stay almost unchanged through 2035. The domestic supply however is expected to grow, reducing the gap currently filled by imports from 49% in 2010 to 36% in 2035.

Source: EIA
This is not significantly different from their earlier forecasts.

2. The picture for natural gas however gets interesting.  This post in early December pointed out the risks to the downside of Natural gas.  As the weather stayed warm, that is in fact what happened.  Today we finally saw a reversal (an 8% pop) to what has been a relentless decline in price. EIA's forecast shows continuing growth in natural gas production in the US driven by shale gas. 

Source: EIA
The outcome of this growth in gas production has to involve significant US exports. As the chart below shows (hat tip Greg Merrill), liquifying natural gas and exporting it will allow companies to capture a massive spread differential.

EIA: The United States is projected to become a net exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in 2016, a net pipeline exporter in 2025, and an overall net exporter of natural gas in 2021. The outlook reflects increased use of LNG in markets outside of North America, strong domestic natural gas production, reduced pipeline imports and increased pipeline exports, and relatively low natural gas prices in the United States compared to other global markets.
3. One surprising projection in the report is the continuing reliance on coal for power, given the vast amounts of cheap natural gas.  Natural gas usage to generate power is expected to increase by only 3%.  The chart below shows projected sources of electricity generation in the US, with coal usage dropping from 45% to 39%. The US should be able to have a bigger reduction, given the nasty effects of coal generated smog.

Source: EIA
Growth in renewables is expected to increase from 10% to 16%, still likely driven more by tax incentives rather than economics.

2012 EIA projections
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