‹ Analysis & Projections

Annual Energy Outlook 2015

Release Date: April 14, 2015   |  Next Release Date: June 2016 |  correction  |  full report


The Annual Energy Outlook 2015 (AEO2015), prepared by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), presents long-term annual projections of energy supply, demand, and prices through 2040. The projections, focused on U.S. energy markets, are based on results from EIA’s National Energy Modeling System (NEMS). NEMS enables EIA to make projections under alternative, internally-consistent sets of assumptions, the results of which are presented as cases. The analysis in AEO2015 focuses on six cases: Reference case, Low and High Economic Growth cases, Low and High Oil Price cases, and High Oil and Gas Resource case.

For the first time, the Annual Energy Outlook (AEO) is presented as a shorter edition under a newly adopted two-year release cycle. With this approach, full editions and shorter editions of the AEO will be produced in alternating years. This approach will allow EIA to focus more resources on rapidly changing energy markets both in the United States and internationally and how they might evolve over the next few years. The shorter edition of the AEO includes a more limited number of model updates, predominantly to reflect historical data updates and changes in legislation and regulation. The AEO shorter editions will include this publication, which discusses the Reference case and five alternative cases, and an accompanying Assumptions Report.[1] Other documentation— including documentation for each of the NEMS models and a Retrospective Review—will be completed only in years when the full edition of the AEO is published.

This AEO2015 report includes the following major sections:

  • Executive summary, highlighting key results of the projections
  • Economic growth, discussing the economic outlooks completed for each of the AEO2015 cases
  • Energy prices, discussing trends in the markets and prices for crude oil, petroleum and other liquids, [2] natural gas, coal, and electricity for each of the AEO2015 cases
  • Energy consumption by primary fuel, discussing trends in energy consumption by fuel, including natural gas, renewables, coal, nuclear, liquid biofuels, and oil and other liquids
  • Energy intensity, examining trends in energy use per capita, energy use per 2009 dollar of gross domestic product (GDP), and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions per 2009 dollar of GDP
  • Energy production, imports, and exports, examining production, import, and export trends for petroleum and other liquids, natural gas, and coal
  • Electricity generation, discussing trends in electricity generation by fuel and prime mover for each of the AEO2015 cases
  • Energy-related CO2 emissions, examining trends in CO2 emissions by sector and AEO2015 case.

Summary tables for the six cases are provided in Appendixes A through D. Complete tables are available in a table browser on EIA's website, at http://www.eia.gov/oiaf/aeo/tablebrowser. Appendix E provides a short discussion of the major changes adopted in AEO2015 and a brief comparison of the AEO2015 and Annual Energy Outlook 2014 results. Appendix F provides a summary of the regional formats, and Appendix G provides a summary of the energy conversion factors used in AEO2015.

The AEO2015 projections are based generally on federal, state, and local laws and regulations in effect as of the end of October 2014. The potential impacts of pending or proposed legislation, regulations, and standards (and sections of existing legislation that require implementing regulations or funds that have not been appropriated) are not reflected in the projections (for example, the proposed Clean Power Plan[3]). In certain situations, however, where it is clear that a law or a regulation will take effect shortly after AEO2015 is completed, it may be considered in the projection.

AEO2015 is published in accordance with Section 205c of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Organization Act of 1977 (Public Law 95-91), which requires the EIA Administrator to prepare annual reports on trends and projections for energy use and supply.


Projections by EIA are not statements of what will happen but of what might happen, given the assumptions and methodologies used for any particular case. The AEO2015 Reference case projection is a business-as-usual trend estimate, given known technology and technological and demographic trends. EIA explores the impacts of alternative assumptions in other cases with different macroeconomic growth rates, world oil prices, and resource assumptions. The main cases in AEO2015 generally assume that current laws and regulations are maintained throughout the projections. Thus, the projections provide policy-neutral baselines that can be used to analyze policy initiatives.

While energy markets are complex, energy models are simplified representations of energy production and consumption, regulations, and producer and consumer behavior. Projections are highly dependent on the data, methodologies, model structures, and assumptions used in their development. Behavioral characteristics are indicative of real-world tendencies rather than representations of specific outcomes.

Energy market projections are subject to much uncertainty. Many of the events that shape energy markets are random and cannot be anticipated. In addition, future developments in technologies, demographics, and resources cannot be foreseen with certainty. Some key uncertainties in the AEO2015 projections are addressed through alternative cases.

EIA has endeavored to make these projections as objective, reliable, and useful as possible; however, they should serve as an adjunct to, not a substitute for, a complete and focused analysis of public policy initiatives.



  1. U.S. Energy Information Administration, Assumptions to the Annual Energy Outlook 2015, DOE/EIA-0554(2015) (Washington, DC, to be published), http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/aeo/assumptions.
  2. Liquid fuels (or petroleum and other liquids) include crude oil and products of petroleum refining, natural gas liquids, biofuels, and liquids derived from other hydrocarbon sources (including coal-to-liquids and gas-to-liquids).
  3. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, "Carbon Pollution Emission Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units," Federal Register, pp. 34829-34958 (Washington, DC: June 18, 2014), https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2014/06/18/2014-13726/carbon-pollutionemission- guidelines-for-existing-stationary-sources-electric-utility-generating.