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Annual Energy Outlook 2014

Release Date: May 7, 2014   |  Next Early Release Date: December 2014   |  See schedule  |  full report

Preface

The Annual Energy Outlook 2014 (AEO2014), prepared by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), presents longterm annual projections of energy supply, demand, and prices focused on the U.S. through 2040, 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 AEO2014 focuses on five primary cases: a Reference case, Low and High Economic Growth cases, and Low and High Oil Price cases. Results from a number of other alternative cases also are presented, illustrating uncertainties associated with the Reference case projections. EIA published an Early Release version of the AEO2014 Reference case in December 2013.

The report begins with an Executive Summary that highlights key implications of the projections, followed by a Legislation and Regulations section that discusses how recently enacted federal and state legislation and regulations were incorporated in AEO2014, such as: the revised carbon dioxide emissions standards and banking provisions announced by the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative in February 2013[1]; updated Renewable Fuel Standard target volumes to reflect actions by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to lower the target volume of cellulosic biofuel; and incorporation of modifications to existing state renewable portfolio standards or similar laws since the Annual Energy Outlook 2013 was released. The Legislation and Regulations section also discusses selected legislative and regulatory issues could have major implications for energy markets and may be enacted in the near future.

The Issues in Focus section contains articles on selected energy topics, including a discussion of the results of two cases based on different assumptions about the future course of existing energy policies: one assumes the elimination of sunset provisions for various energy tax credits that are scheduled to expire under current law; the other assumes—in addition to the elimination of sunset provisions on various tax credits—the extension or expansion of three existing policies: corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards, appliance standards, and building code improvements. Other discussions include:

  • U.S. tight oil production trends and supply projections based on alternative assumptions and a methodology using well-level data aggregated to the county level
  • Potential of liquefied natural gas as a freight locomotive fuel
  • Impacts of demographic issues and travel behavior on light-duty vehicle energy demand
  • Effects of lower natural gas prices on projected industrial production
  • Implications of accelerated power plant retirements
  • Renewable electricity projections under alternative assumptions in AEO2014
  • Implications of low electricity demand growth.

The Market Trends section summarizes the AEO2014 projections for energy markets by end-use market sector or energy supply source. In some instances, this section also uses alternative cases to illustrate a range of potential outcomes under difference circumstances, highlighting the uncertainty associated with the projections. Complete tables for the five primary cases are provided in Appendixes A through C, and major results from many of the other alternative cases are provided in Appendix D. Complete tables for all the alternative cases are available in a table browser on EIA's website, at http://www.eia.gov/oiaf/aeo/tablebrowser.

AEO2014 projections are based generally on federal, state, and local laws and regulations in effect as of the end of October 2013. 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. In certain situations, however, where it is clear that a law or regulation will take effect shortly after AEO2014 is completed, it may be considered in the projection.

AEO2014 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 scenario. The AEO2014 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 scenarios with different macroeconomic growth rates, world oil prices, and rates of technology progress. The main cases in AEO2014 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. Many key uncertainties in the AEO2014 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.

 

Endnotes

  1. Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, “Program Review” (New York, New York: February 7, 2013), http://www.rggi.org/docs/ ProgramReview/_FinalProgramReviewMaterials/Recommendations_Summary.pdf.