U.S. Energy Information Administration - EIA - Independent Statistics and Analysis
Annual Energy Outlook 2013
Transportation from Executive Summary
With more efficient light-duty vehicles, motor gasoline consumption declines while diesel fuel use grows, even as more natural gas is used in heavy-duty vehicles
The AEO2013 Reference case incorporates the GHG and CAFE standards for LDVs  through the 2025 model year. The increase in vehicle efficiency reduces LDV energy use from 16.1 quadrillion Btu in 2011 to 14.0 quadrillion Btu in 2025, predominantly motor gasoline (Figure 6). LDV energy use continues to decline through 2036, then levels off until 2039 as growth in population and vehicle miles traveled offsets more modest improvement in fuel efficiency.
Furthermore, the improved economics of natural gas as a fuel for heavy-duty vehicles result in increased use that offsets a portion of diesel fuel consumption. The use of petroleum-based diesel fuel is also reduced by growing consumption of diesel produced with gas-to-liquids (GTL) technology. Natural gas use in vehicles (including natural gas used in the production of GTL) totals 1.4 trillion cubic feet in 2040 in the Reference case, displacing 0.7 million barrels per day of other motor fuels . Diesel fuel use nonetheless increases at a relatively strong rate, with freight travel demand supported by increasing industrial production.
Natural gas consumption grows in industrial and electric power sectors as domestic production also serves an expanding export market
Relatively low natural gas prices, maintained by growing shale gas production, spur increased use in the industrial and electric power sectors, particularly over the next decade. In the Reference case, natural gas use in the industrial sector increases by 16 percent, from 6.8 trillion cubic feet per year in 2011 to 7.8 trillion cubic feet per year in 2025. After 2025, the growth of natural gas consumption in the industrial sector slows, while total U.S. consumption continues to grow (Figure 7). This additional growth is mostly for use in the electric power sector. Although natural gas continues to capture a growing share of total electricity generation, natural gas consumption by power plants does not increase as sharply as generation because new plants are very efficient (needing less fuel per unit of power output). The natural gas share of generation rose from 16 percent of generation in 2000 to 24 percent in 2011 and increases to 27 percent in 2025 and 30 percent in 2040. Natural gas use in the residential and commercial sectors remains nearly constant, as increasing end-use demand is balanced by increasing end-use efficiency.
Natural gas consumption also grows in other markets in the Reference case, including heavy-duty freight transportation (trucking) and as a feedstock for GTL production of diesel and other fuels. Those uses account for 6 percent of total U.S. natural gas consumption in 2040, as compared with almost nothing in 2011.
Natural gas use in the electric power sector grows even more sharply in the High Oil and Natural Gas Resource case, as the natural gas share of electricity generation grows to 39 percent, reaching 14.8 trillion cubic feet in 2040, more than 55 percent greater than in the Reference case. Industrial sector natural gas consumption growth is also stronger in this case, with growth continuing after 2025 and reaching 13.0 trillion cubic feet in 2040 (compared to 10.5 trillion cubic feet in 2040 in the Reference case). Much of the industrial growth in the High Oil and Natural Gas Resource case is associated with natural gas use for GTL production and increased lease and plant use in natural gas production.
Transportation from Market Trends
Energy-intensive industries show strong early growth in output
In recent decades, industrial sector shipments expanded more slowly than the overall economy, with imports meeting a large share of demand for goods and the service sector growing rapidly . In the Reference case, real GDP grows at an average annual rate of 2.5 percent from 2011 to 2040, while the industrial sector increases by 2.0 percent per year (Figure 46).
Industrial sector output goes through two distinct growth periods in the AEO2013 Reference case, with energy-intensive industries displaying the sharpest contrast between the periods. Recovery from the recession in the U.S. industrial sector has been relatively slow, with only mining, aluminum, machinery, and transportation equipment industries recovering to 2008 levels in 2011. However, as the recovery continues and increased oil and natural gas production from shale resources begins to affect U.S. competitiveness, growth in U.S. manufacturing output accelerates through 2022.
After 2020, manufacturing output slows because of increased foreign competition and rising energy prices, which weigh most heavily on the energy-intensive industries. The energy-intensive industries grow at a rate of 1.8 percent per year from 2011 to 2020 and 0.6 percent per year from 2020 to 2040. Growth rates within the sector vary by industry, ranging from an annual average of 0.6 percent for bulk chemicals to 2.8 percent for the cement industry.
Export expansion is an important factor for industrial production growth, along with consumer demand and investment. A decline in U.S. dollar exchange rates, combined with modest escalation in unit labor costs, stimulates U.S. exports in the projection. From 2011 to 2040, real exports of goods and services increase by an average of 5.5 percent per year, while real imports of goods and services grow by an average of 3.8 percent per year.
Industrial and commercial sectors lead U.S. growth in primary energy use
Total primary energy consumption, including fuels used for electricity generation, grows by 0.3 percent per year from 2011 to 2040, to 107.6 quadrillion Btu in 2040 in the AEO2013 Reference case (Figure 53). The largest growth, 5.1 quadrillion Btu from 2011 to 2040, is in the industrial sector, attributable to increased use of natural gas in some industries (bulk chemicals, for example) as a result of an extended period of relatively low prices coinciding with rising shipments in those industries. The industrial sector was more severely affected than the other end-use sectors by the 2007-2009 economic downturn; the increase in industrial energy consumption from 2008 through 2040 is 3.9 quadrillion Btu.
The second-largest increase in total primary energy use, at 3.1 quadrillion Btu from 2011 to 2040, is in the commercial sector, which currently accounts for the smallest share of end-use energy demand. Even as standards for building shells and energy efficiency are being tightened in the commercial sector, the growth rate for commercial energy use, at 0.5 percent per year, is the highest among the end-use sectors, propelled by 1.0-percent average annual growth in commercial floorspace.
Primary energy use in the residential sector grows by 0.2 percent per year, or about 1.6 quadrillion Btu from 2011 to 2040, but it does not increase above the 2011 level until 2029. Increased efficiency reduces energy use for space heating, lighting, and clothes washers.
In the transportation sector, light-duty vehicle (LDV) energy consumption declines as a result of the impact of fuel economy standards through 2025. Total transportation sector energy use is essentially flat from 2011 through 2040, increasing by about 140 trillion Btu.
Growth in transportation energy
consumption flat across projection
The transportation sector consumes 27.1 quadrillion Btu of energy in 2040, the same as the level of energy demand in 2011 (Figure 70). The projection of no growth in transportation energy demand differs markedly from the historical trend, which saw 1.1-percent average annual growth from 1975 to 2011 . No growth in transportation energy demand is the result of declining energy use for LDVs, which offsets increased energy use for heavy-duty vehicles (HDVs), aircraft, marine, rail, and pipelines.
Energy demand for LDVs declines from 16.1 quadrillion Btu in 2011 to 13.0 quadrillion Btu in 2040, in contrast to 0.9-percent average annual growth from 1975 to 2011. Higher fuel economy for LDVs more than offsets modest growth in vehicle miles traveled (VMT)per driver.
Energy demand for HDVs (including tractor trailers, buses, vocational vehicles, and heavy-duty pickups and vans) increases the fastest among transportation modes, from 5.2 quadrillion Btu in 2011 to 7.6 quadrillion Btu in 2040, as a result of increased travel as economic output grows. The increase in energy demand for HDVs is tempered by standards for HDV fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions starting in 2014.
Energy demand for aircraft increases from 2.5 quadrillion Btu in 2011 to 2.9 quadrillion Btu in 2040. Increases in personal air travel are offset by gains in aircraft fuel efficiency, while air freight movement grows with higher exports. Energy consumption for marine and rail travel increases as industrial output rises, and pipeline energy use rises moderately as increasing volumes of natural gas are produced closer to end-use markets.
CAFE and greenhouse gas emissions standards boost light-duty vehicle fuel economy
The 1978 introduction of corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards for LDVs increased their average fuel economy from 19.9 mpg in 1978 to 26.2 mpg in 1987. Despite technological improvement, fuel economy fell to between 24 and 27 mpg over the next two decades, as sales of light trucks increased from 18 percent of new LDV sales in 1980 to 55 percent in 2004 . The subsequent rise in fuel prices, reduction in sales of light trucks, and more stringent CAFE standards for light-duty trucks starting in model year (MY) 2008 and for passenger cars in MY 2011, resulted in a rise in estimated LDV fuel economy to 29.0 mpg in 2011 .
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have jointly announced new GHG emissions and CAFE standards for MY 2012 through MY 2025 , ], which are included in AEO2013. As a result, the fuel economy of new LDVs, measured in terms of their compliance values in CAFE testing , rises from 32.5 mpg in 2012 to 47.3 mpg in 2025 (Figure 71). The GHG emissions and CAFE standards are held roughly constant after 2025, but fuel economy continues to rise, to 49.0 mpg in 2040, as new fuel-saving technologies are adopted. In 2040, passenger car fuel economy averages 56.1 mpg and light-duty truck fuel economy averages 40.5 mpg.
Travel demand for personal vehicles continues to grow, but more slowly than in the past
Personal vehicle travel demand, measured as annual vehicle miles traveled (VMT) per licensed driver, grew at an average annual rate of 1 percent from 1970 to 2007, from about 8,700 miles per driver in 1970 to 12,800 miles in 2007. Since peaking in 2007, travel per licensed driver has declined because of rapidly increasing fuel prices and the economic recession.
Demographic changes moderate projected growth in VMT per licensed driver, which grows by an average of 0.3 percent per year, remaining below the 2007 level until 2029 and then growing to 13,300 miles in 2040 (Figure 72). Although vehicle sales rise through 2040, the number of vehicles per licensed driver declines from the all-time peak of 1.12 in 2007 to 1.01 in 2040. Further, unemployment remains above prerecession levels until around 2020, tempering the growth in demand for personal travel.
From 2011 to 2040, the price of motor gasoline increases by 26 percent (on a Btu basis), while real disposable personal income grows by 95 percent. Faster growth in income than fuel price lowers the percentage of income spent on fuel, boosting travel demand. In addition, the increase in fuel costs is more than offset by a 50-percent improvement in new vehicle fuel economy. Implementation of the new GHG and CAFE standards for LDVs lowers the cost of driving per mile and leads to growth in personal travel demand. Personal vehicle travel demand could vary, however, depending on several uncertainties, including the impact of changing demographics on travel behavior, the intensity of mass transit use, and other factors discussed above, such as fuel prices. The implications of a possible long-term decline in VMT per licensed driver are considered in the "Issues in focus" section of this report (see "Petroleum import dependence in a range of cases").
Sales of alternative fuel, fuel flexible,
and hybrid vehicles sales rise
LDVs that use diesel, other alternative fuels, hybrid-electric, or all-electric systems play a significant role in meeting more stringent GHG emissions and CAFE standards over the projection period. Sales of such vehicles increase from 20 percent of all new LDV sales in 2011 to 49 percent in 2040 in the AEO2013 Reference case.
Micro hybrid vehicles, defined here as conventional gasoline vehicles with micro hybrid systems that manage engine operation at idle, represent 28 percent of new LDV sales in 2040, the largest share among vehicles using diesel, alternative fuels, hybrid-electric, or all-electric systems.
Flex-fuel vehicles (FFVs), which can use blends of ethanol up to 85 percent, represent the second largest share of these vehicle types in 2040, at 7 percent of all new LDV sales. Current incentives for manufacturers selling FFVs, which are available in the form of fuel economy credits earned for CAFE compliance, expire in 2019. As a result, the FFV share of LDV sales rises over the next decade and then declines.
Sales of hybrid electric and all-electric vehicles that use stored electric energy for motive power grow considerably in the Reference case (Figure 73). Gasoline- and diesel-electric hybrid vehicles account for 6 percent of total LDV sales in 2040; and plug-in hybrid and all-electric vehicles account for 3 percent of total LDV sales, or 6 percent of sales of vehicles using diesel, alternative fuels, hybrid, or all-electric systems.
The diesel vehicle share of total sales remains constant over the projection period at about 4 percent of total LDV sales. Light-duty gaseous and fuel cell vehicles account for less than 1 percent of new vehicle sales throughout the projection period because of limited fueling infrastructure and high incremental vehicle costs.
Heavy-duty vehicles dominate natural gas consumption in the transportation sector
Natural gas, as compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG), is the fastest-growing fuel in the transportation sector, with an average annual growth rate of 11.9 percent from 2011 to 2040 (Figure 74). HDVs—which include tractor trailers, vocational vehicles, buses, and heavy-duty pickups and vans with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 10,001 pounds or more—lead the growth in natural gas demand throughout the projection period. Natural gas fuel consumption by HDVs increases from almost zero in 2011 to more than 1 quadrillion Btu in 2040, at an average annual growth rate of 14.6 percent.
Although HDVs fueled by natural gas have significant incremental costs in comparison with their diesel-powered counterparts, the increase in natural gas consumption for HDVs is spurred by low prices of natural gas compared with diesel fuel, as well as purchases of natural gas vehicles for relatively high-VMT applications, such as tractor trailers.
The total number of miles traveled annually by HDVs grows by 82 percent in the Reference case, from 240 billion miles in 2011 to 438 billion miles in 2040, for an average annual increase of 2.1 percent. HDVs, those with a GVWR greater than 26,000 pounds (primarily tractor trailers), account for about three-fourths of truck VMT and 91 percent of natural gas consumption by all HDVs in 2040. The rise in VMT is supported by rising economic output over the projection period and an increase in the number of trucks on the road, from 9.0 million in 2011 to 13.7 million in 2040.
Industrial and electric power sectors lead
U.S. growth in natural gas consumption
U.S. total natural gas consumption grows from 24.4 trillion cubic feet in 2011 to 29.5 trillion cubic feet in 2040 in the AEO2013 Reference case. Natural gas use increases in all the end-use sectors except residential (Figure 85), where consumption declines as a result of improvements in appliance efficiency and falling demand for space heating, attributable in part to population shifts to warmer regions of the country.
Despite falling early in the projection period from a spike in 2012, which resulted from very low natural gas prices relative to coal, consumption of natural gas for power generation increases by an average of 0.8 percent per year, with more natural gas used for electricity production as relatively low prices make natural gas more competitive with coal. Over the projection period, the natural gas share of total power generation grows, while the coal share declines.
Natural gas consumption in the industrial sector increases by an average of 0.5 percent per year from 2011 to 2040. This includes 0.7 trillion cubic feet of natural gas used in GTL, which is largely consumed in the transportation sector. Industrial output grows as the energy-intensive industries take advantage of relatively low natural gas prices, particularly through 2025. After 2025, growth in the sector slows in response to rising prices and increased international competition.
Although vehicle uses currently account for only a small part of total U.S. natural gas consumption, the projected percentage growth in natural gas demand by vehicles is the largest percentage growth in the projection. With incentives and low natural gas prices leading to increased demand for natural gas as a fuel for HDVs, particularly after 2025, consumption in vehicles increases from about 40 billion cubic feet in 2011 to just over 1 trillion cubic feet in 2040.
Petroleum and other liquids consumption outside industrial sector is stagnant or declines
Consumption of petroleum and other liquids peaks at 19.8 million barrels per day in 2019 in the AEO2013 Reference case and then falls to 18.9 million barrels per day in 2040 (Figure 93). The transportation sector accounts for the largest share of total consumption throughout the projection, although its share falls to 68 percent in 2040 from 72 percent in 2012 as a result of improvements in vehicle efficiency following the incorporation of CAFE standards for both LDVs and HDVs. Consumption of petroleum and other liquids increases in the industrial sector, by 0.6 million barrels per day from 2011 to 2040, but decreases in all the other end-use sectors.
Motor gasoline, ultra-low-sulfur diesel fuel, and jet fuel are the primary transportation fuels, supplemented by biofuels and natural gas. Motor gasoline consumption drops by approximately 1.6 million barrels per day from 2011 to 2040 in the Reference case, while diesel fuel consumption increases from 3.5 million barrels per day in 2011 to 4.3 million in 2040, primarily for use in heavy-duty vehicles. At the same time, natural gas use in heavy-duty vehicles displaces 0.7 million barrels per day of petroleum-based motor fuel in 2040, most of which is diesel.
An increase in consumption of biodiesel and next-generation biofuels , totaling about 0.4 million barrels per day from 2011 to 2040, is attributable to the EISA2007 RFS mandates. The relative competitiveness of CTL and GTL fuels improves over the projection period as petroleum prices rise. In 2040, CTL and GTL together supply 0.3 million barrels per day of nonpetroleum liquids. Both ethanol blending into gasoline and E85 consumption are essentially flat from 2011 through 2040, as a result of declining gasoline consumption and limited penetration of FFVs.
U.S. consumption of cellulosic biofuels falls short of EISA2007 Renewable Fuels Standard target
Biofuel consumption grows in the AEO2013 Reference case but falls well short of the EISA2007 RFS target  of 36 billion gallons ethanol equivalent in 2022 (Figure 100), largely because of a decline in gasoline consumption as a result of newly enacted CAFE standards and updated expectations for sales of vehicles capable of using E85. From 2011 to 2022, demand for motor gasoline ethanol blends (E10 and E15) falls from 8.7 million barrels to 8.1 million barrels per day.
Because the current and projected vehicle fleets are not equipped to use ethanol's increased octane relative to gasoline, they cannot offset its lower energy density. As a result, the wholesale price of ethanol does not exceed two-thirds of the wholesale gasoline price. This reflects the energy-equivalent value of ethanol and would be the equilibrium price in periods with significant market penetration of blends with high ethanol content, such as E85. The RFS program does not provide sufficient incentives to promote significant new ethanol capacity in this pricing environment. Also during the projection period, consumption of biomass-based diesel levels off in the Reference case after growing to meet the current RFS target of 1.9 billion gallons ethanol equivalent in 2013.
Ethanol consumption falls from 16.4 billion gallons in 2022 to 14.9 billion gallons in 2040 in the AEO2013 Reference case, as gasoline demand continues to drop and E85 consumption levels off. However, domestic consumption of drop-in cellulosic biofuels grows from 0.3 billion gallons to 9.0 billion gallons ethanol equivalent per year from 2011 to 2040, as rising oil prices lead to price increases for diesel fuel, heating oil, and jet fuel, while production costs for biofuel technologies fall.
The final rulemaking exempts small manufacturers of heavy-duty engines, combination tractor cabs, or vocational vehicle chassis from the GHG emissions and fuel consumption standards. Fuel consumption and GHG emissions for alternative-fuel vehicles, such as compressed natural gas vehicles, will be calculated according to their tailpipe emissions. Finally, the rulemaking contains four provisions designed to give manufacturers fexibility in meeting the GHG and fuel consumption standards. Both the EPA and NHTSA will allow for early compliance credits in MY 2013; manufacturer averaging, banking, and trading; advanced technology credits; and innovative technology credits. Those flexibility provisions are not included in the AEO2012 Reference case.
Efficiency standards shift consumption from motor gasoline to diesel fuel
Based on NHTSA estimates, more stringent efficiency standards for LDVs will require new LDVs to average approximately 49 mpg in 2025, in addition to regulations requiring increased use of ethanol. The combination contributes to a decline in consumption of motor gasoline and an increase in consumption of diesel fuel and ethanol in the AEO2013 Reference case. Motor gasoline consumption falls despite an increase in VMT by LDVs over the projection period.
The decrease in gasoline consumption, combined with growth in diesel consumption, leads to a shift in refinery outputs and investments. Motor gasoline consumption and diesel fuel consumption trend in opposite directions in the Reference case: consumption of diesel fuel increases by approximately 0.8 million barrels per day from 2011 to 2040, while finished motor gasoline consumption falls by 1.6 million barrels per day (Figure 102). Although some smaller and less-integrated refineries begin to idle capacity as a result of higher costs, new refinery projects focus on shifting production from gasoline to distillate fuels to meet growing demand for diesel.
In the Reference case, as a result of refinery economics and slower growth in domestic demand, no new petroleum refinery capacity expansions are built during the projection period besides those already under construction. Further, approximately 200,000 barrels per day of capacity is retired, beginning in 2012. In addition to meeting domestic demand, refineries continue exporting finished products to international markets throughout the projection period. From 2014 to 2017 gross exports of finished products increase to more than 3.0 million barrels per day for the first time, and they remain near that level through 2040. Further, the United States, which became a net exporter of finished products in 2011, remains a net exporter through 2040 in the Reference case.
Transportation from Legislation and Regulations
1. Greenhouse gas emissions and corporate average fuel economy standards for 2017 and later model year light-duty vehicles
On October 15, 2012, EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) jointly issued a final rule for tailpipe emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and CAFE standards for light-duty vehicles, model years 2017 and beyond . EPA, operating under powers granted by the Clean Air Act (CAA), issued final CO2 emissions standards for model years 2017 through 2025 for passenger cars and light-duty trucks, including medium-duty passenger vehicles. NHTSA, under powers granted by the Energy Policy and Conservation Act, as amended by the Energy Independence and Security Act, issued CAFE standards for passenger cars and light-duty trucks, including medium-duty passenger vehicles, for model years 2017 through 2025.
The new CO2 emissions and CAFE standards will first affect model year 2017 vehicles, with compliance requirements increasing in stringency each year thereafter through model year 2025. EPA has established standards that are expected to require a fleet-wide average of 163 grams CO2 per mile for light-duty vehicles in model year 2025, which is equivalent to a fleet-wide average of 54.5 miles per gallon (mpg) if reached only through fuel economy. However, the CO2 emissions standards can be met in part through reductions in air-conditioning leakage and the use of alternative refrigerants, which reduce CO2-equivalent GHG emissions but do not affect the estimation of fuel economy compliance in the test procedure.
NHTSA has established two phases of CAFE standards for passenger cars and light-duty trucks (Table 1). The first phase, covering model years 2017 through 2021, includes final standards that NHTSA estimates will result in a fleet-wide average of 40.3 mpg for light-duty vehicles in model year 2021 . The second phase, covering model years 2022 through 2025, requires additional improvements leading to a fleet-wide average of 48.7 mpg for light-duty vehicles in model year 2025. Compliance with CO2 emission and CAFE standards is calculated only after final model year vehicle production, with fleet-wide light-duty vehicle standards representing averages based on the sales volume of passenger cars and light-duty trucks for a given year. Because sales volumes are not known until after the end of the model year, EPA and NHTSA estimate future fuel economy based on the projected sales volumes of passenger cars and light-duty trucks.
The new CO2 emissions and CAFE standards for passenger cars and light-duty trucks use an attribute-based standard that is determined by vehicle footprint—the same methodology that was used in setting the final rule for model year 2012 to 2016 light-duty vehicles. Footprint is defined as wheelbase size (the distance from the center of the front axle to the center of the rear axle), multiplied by average track width (the distance between the center lines of the tires) in square feet. The minimum requirements for CO2 emissions and CAFE are production-weighted averages based on unique vehicle footprints in a manufacturer's fleet and are calculated separately for passenger cars and light-duty trucks (Figures 9 and 10), reflecting their different design capabilities. In general, as vehicle footprint increases, compliance requirements decline to account for increased vehicle size and load-carrying capability. Each manufacturer faces a unique combination of CO2 emission and CAFE standards, depending on the number of vehicles produced and the footprints of those vehicles, separately for passenger cars and light-duty trucks.
For passenger cars, average fleet-wide compliance levels increase in stringency by 3.9 percent annually between model years 2017 and 2021 and by 4.7 percent annually between 2022 and 2025, based on the model year 2010 baseline fleet. In recognition of the challenge of improving the fuel economy and reducing CO2 emissions of full-size pickup trucks while maintaining towing and payload capabilities, the average annual rate of increase in the stringency of light-duty truck standards is 2.9 percent from 2017 to 2021, with smaller light-duty trucks facing higher increases and larger light-duty trucks lower increases in compliance stringency. From 2022 to 2025, the average annual increase in compliance stringency for all light-duty trucks is 4.7 percent.
The CO2 emissions and CAFE standards also include flexibility provisions for compliance by individual manufacturers, such as: (1) credit averaging, which allows credit transfers between a manufacturer's passenger car and light-duty truck fleets; (2) credit banking, which allows manufacturers to "carry forward" credits earned from exceeding the standards in earlier model years and to "carry back" credits earned in later model years to offset shortfalls in earlier model years; (3) credit trading between manufacturers who exceed their standards and those who do not; (4) air conditioning improvement credits that can be applied toward CO2 emissions standards; (5) off-cycle credits for measurable improvements in CO2 emissions and fuel economy that are not captured by the two-cycle test procedure used to measure emissions and fuel consumption; (6) CO2 emissions "compliance multipliers" for electric, plug-in hybrid electric, compressed natural gas, and fuel cell vehicles through model year 2021; and (7) incentives for the use of hybrid electric and other advanced technologies in full-size pickup trucks.
Finally, flexibility provisions do not allow domestic passenger cars to deviate significantly from annual fuel economy targets. NHTSA retains a required minimum fuel economy level for domestically produced passenger cars by manufacturer that is the higher of 27.5 miles per gallon or 92 percent of the average fuel economy projected for the combined fleet of domestic and foreign passenger cars for sale in the United States. For example, the minimum standard for passenger cars sold by a manufacturer in 2025 would be 50.9 miles per gallon, based on the estimated fleet average passenger car fuel economy for that year.
The AEO2013 Reference case includes the final CAFE standards for model years 2012 through 2016 (promulgated in March 2010)  and the standards for model years 2017 through 2025, with subsequent CAFE standards for years 2026-2040 vehicles calculated using 2025 levels of stringency. The AEO2013 Reference case projects fuel economy values for passenger cars, light-duty trucks, and combined light-duty vehicles that differ from NHTSA projections. This variance is the result of a different distribution of the production of passenger cars and light-duty trucks by footprint as well as a different mix between passenger cars and light-duty trucks (Table 2). CAFE standards are included by using the equations and coefficients employed by NHTSA to determine unique fuel economy requirements based on footprint, along with the ability of manufacturers to earn flexibility credits toward compliance. The AEO2013 Reference case projects sales of passenger cars and light-duty trucks by vehicle footprint with the key assumption that vehicle footprints are held constant by manufacturer in each light-duty vehicle size class.
The LCFS, administered by CARB , is designed to reduce by 10 percent the average carbon intensity of motor gasoline and diesel fuels sold in California from 2012 to 2020 through the increased sale of alternative "low-carbon" fuels. Regulated parties generally are the fuel producers and importers who sell motor gasoline or diesel fuel in California. The program is assumed to remain in place at 2020 levels from 2021 to 2040 in AEO2013. The carbon intensity of each alternative low-carbon fuel, based on life-cycle analyses conducted under the guidance of CARB for a number of approved fuel pathways, is calculated on an energy-equivalent basis, measured in grams of CO2-equivalent emissions per megajoule.
AEO2013 incorporates the LCFS by requiring that the average carbon intensity of motor fuels sold for use in California meets the carbon intensity targets. For the AEO2013 Reference case, carbon intensity targets and the carbon intensities of alternative fuels were adapted from the "Third Notice of Public Availability of Modified Text and Availability of Additional Documents and Information" . Key uncertainties in the modeling of the LCFS are the availability of low-carbon fuels in California and what actions CARB may take if the LCFS is not met. In AEO2013, these uncertainties are addressed by assuming that fuel providers can purchase low-carbon credits if low-carbon fuels cannot be produced and sold at reasonable prices.
In December 2011, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern Division of California ruled in favor of several trade groups that claimed the LCFS violated the interstate commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution by seeking to regulate farming and ethanol production practices in other states. The court granted an injunction blocking enforcement of the LCFS by CARB . In April 2012, the U.S. Ninth District Court of Appeals granted a stay of injunction while CARB appeals the original ruling . Although the future of the LCFS program remains uncertain, the stay of the injunction requires that the program be enforced.
Transportation from Issues in Focus
The AEO2013 Reference case is best described as a current laws and regulations case because it generally assumes that existing laws and regulations remain unchanged throughout the projection period, unless the legislation establishing them sets a sunset date or specifies how they will change. The Reference case often serves as a starting point for analysis of proposed changes in legislation or regulations. While the definition of the Reference case is relatively straightforward, there may be considerable interest in a variety of alternative cases that reflect updates or extensions of current laws and regulations. Areas of particular interest include:
- Laws or regulations that have a history of being extended beyond their legislated sunset dates. Examples include the various tax credits for renewable fuels and technologies, which have been extended with or without modifications several times since their initial implementation.
- Laws or regulations that call for periodic updating of initial specifications. Examples include appliance efficiency standards issued by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and CAFE and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions standards for vehicles issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
- Laws or regulations that allow or require the appropriate regulatory agency to issue new or revised regulations under certain conditions. Examples include the numerous provisions of the Clean Air Act that require EPA to issue or revise regulations if it finds that an environmental quality target is not being met.
Two alternative cases are discussed in this section to provide some insight into the sensitivity of results to scenarios in which existing tax credits or other policies do not sunset. No attempt is made to cover the full range of possible uncertainties in these areas, and readers should not view the cases discussed as EIA projections of how laws or regulations might or should be changed. The cases examined here look only at federal laws or regulations and do not examine state laws or regulations.
The two cases prepared—the No Sunset case and the Extended Policies case—incorporate all the assumptions from the AEO2013 Reference case, except as identified below. Changes from the Reference case assumptions include the following.
No Sunset case
Tax credits for renewable energy sources in the utility, industrial, and buildings sectors, or for energy-efficient equipment in the buildings sector, are assumed to be extended, including the following:
- The PTC of 2.2 cents per kilowatthour and the 30-percent investment tax credit (ITC) available for wind, geothermal, biomass, hydroelectric, and landfill gas resources, assumed in the Reference case to expire at the end of 2012 for wind and 2013 for the other eligible resources, are extended indefinitely. On January 1, 2013, Congress passed a one-year extension of the PTC for wind and modified the qualification rules for all eligible technologies; these changes are not included in the AEO2013 Reference case, which was completed in December 2012, but they are discussed in "Effects of energy provisions in the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012".
- For solar power investments, a 30-percent ITC that is scheduled to revert to a 10-percent credit in 2016 is, instead, assumed to be extended indefinitely at 30 percent.
- In the buildings sector, personal tax credits for the purchase of renewable equipment, including photovoltaics (PV), are assumed to be extended indefinitely, as opposed to ending in 2016 as prescribed by current law. The business ITCs for commercial-sector generation technologies and geothermal heat pumps are assumed to be extended indefinitely, as opposed to expiring in 2016; and the business ITC for solar systems is assumed to remain at 30 percent instead of reverting to 10 percent. On January 1, 2013, legislation was enacted to reinstate tax credits for energy-efficient homes and selected residential appliances. The tax credits that had expired on December 31, 2011, are now extended through December 31, 2013. This change is not included in the Reference case.
- In the industrial sector, the 10-percent ITC for combined heat and power (CHP) that ends in 2016 in the AEO2013 Reference case  is assumed to be preserved through 2040, the end of the projection period.
Extended Policies case
The Extended Policies case includes additional updates to federal equipment efficiency standards that were not considered in the Reference case or No Sunset case. Residential and commercial end-use technologies eligible for incentives in the No Sunset case are not subject to new standards. Other than those exceptions, the Extended Policies case adopts the same assumptions as the No Sunset case, plus the following:
- Federal equipment efficiency standards are assumed to be updated at periodic intervals, consistent with the provisions in existing law, at levels based on ENERGY STAR specifications or on the Federal Energy Management Program purchasing guidelines for federal agencies, as applicable. Standards are also introduced for products that currently are not subject to federal efficiency standards.
- Updated federal energy codes for residential and commercial buildings increase by 30 percent in 2020 compared to the 2006 International Energy Conservation Code in the residential sector and the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers Building Energy Code 90.1-2004 in the commercial sector. Two subsequent rounds in 2023 and 2026 each add an assumed 5-percent incremental improvement to building energy codes. The equipment standards and building codes assumed for the Extended Policies case are meant to illustrate the potential effects of those policies on energy consumption for buildings. No cost-benefit analysis or evaluation of impacts on consumer welfare was completed in developing the assumptions. Likewise, no technical feasibility analysis was conducted, although standards were not allowed to exceed the "maximum technologically feasible" levels described in DOE's technical support documents.
- The AEO2013 Reference, No Sunset, and Extended Policies cases include both the attribute-based CAFE standards for light-duty vehicles (LDVs) in model year (MY) 2011 and the joint attribute-based CAFE and vehicle GHG emissions standards for MY 2012 to MY 2025. The Reference and No Sunset cases assume that the CAFE standards are then held constant at MY 2025 levels in subsequent model years, although the fuel economy of new LDVs continues to rise modestly over time. The Extended Policies case modifies the assumption in the Reference and No Sunset cases, assuming continued increases in CAFE standards after MY 2025. CAFE standards for new LDVs are assumed to increase by an annual average rate of 1.4 percent.
- In the industrial sector, the ITC for CHP is extended to cover all properties with CHP, no matter what the system size (instead of being limited to properties with systems smaller than 50 megawatts as in the Reference case ), which may include multiple units. Also, the ITC is modified to increase the eligible CHP unit cap to 25 megawatts from 15 megawatts. These extensions are consistent with previously proposed legislation.
The changes made to the Reference case assumptions in the No Sunset and Extended Policies cases generally lead to lower estimates for overall energy consumption, increased use of renewable fuels particularly for electricity generation and reduced energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Because the Extended Policies case includes most of the assumptions in the No Sunset case but adds others, the effects of the Extended Policies case tend to be greater than those in the No Sunset case—but not in all cases, as discussed below. Although these cases show lower energy prices, because the tax credits and end-use efficiency standards lead to lower energy demand and reduce the costs of renewable technologies, appliance purchase costs are also affected. In addition, the government receives lower tax revenues as consumers and businesses take advantage of the tax credits.
Total energy consumption in the No Sunset case is close to the level in the Reference case (Figure 13). Improvements in energy efficiency lead to reduced consumption in this case, but somewhat lower energy prices lead to relatively higher levels of consumption, partially offsetting the impact of improved efficiency. In 2040, total energy consumption in the Extended Policies case is 3.8 percent below the Reference case projection.
Buildings energy consumption
Renewable distributed generation (DG) technologies (PV systems and small wind turbines) provide much of the buildings-related energy savings in the No Sunset case. Extended tax credits in the No Sunset case spur increased adoption of renewable DG, leading to 61 billion kilowatthours of onsite electricity generation from DG systems in 2025, compared with 28 billion kilowatthours in the Reference case. Continued availability of the tax credits results in 137 billion kilowatthours of onsite electricity generation in 2040 in the No Sunset case—more than three times the amount of onsite electricity generated in 2040 in the Reference case. Similar adoption of renewable DG occurs in the Extended Policies case. With the additional efficiency gains from assumed future standards and more stringent building codes, delivered energy consumption for buildings is 3.9 percent (0.8 quadrillion British thermal units [Btu]) lower in 2025 and 8.0 percent (1.7 quadrillion Btu) lower in 2040 in the Extended Policies case than in the Reference case. The reduction in 2040 is more than seven times as large as the 1.1-percent (0.2 quadrillion Btu) reduction in the No Sunset case.
Electricity use shows the largest reduction in the two alternative cases compared to the Reference case. Building electricity consumption is 1.3 percent and 5.8 percent lower, respectively, in the No Sunset and Extended Policies cases in 2025 and 2.1 percent and 8.7 percent lower, respectively, in 2040 than in the Reference case, as onsite generation continues to increase and updated standards affect a greater share of the equipment stock in the Extended Policies case. Space heating and cooling are affected by the assumed standards and building codes, leading to significant savings in energy consumption for heating and cooling in the Extended Policies case. In 2040, delivered energy use for space heating in buildings is 9.6 percent lower, and energy use for space cooling is 20.3 percent lower, in the Extended Policies case than in the Reference case. In addition to improved standards and codes, extended tax credits for PV prompt increased adoption, offsetting some of the costs for purchased electricity for cooling. New standards for televisions and for personal computers and related equipment in the Extended Policies case lead to savings of 28.3 percent and 31.8 percent, respectively, in residential electricity use for this equipment in 2040 relative to the Reference case. Residential and commercial natural gas use declines from 8.1 quadrillion Btu in 2011 to 7.8 quadrillion Btu in 2025 and 7.2 quadrillion Btu in 2040 in the Extended Policies case, representing a 2.2-percent reduction in 2025 and a 8.5-percent reduction in 2040 relative to the Reference case.
Industrial energy consumption
The No Sunset case modifies the Reference case assumptions by extending the existing ITC for industrial CHP through 2040. The Extended Policies case starts from the No Sunset case and expands the credit to include industrial CHP systems of all sizes and raises the maximum credit that can be claimed from 15 megawatts of installed capacity to 25 megawatts. The changes result in 1.6 gigawatts of additional industrial CHP capacity in the No Sunset case compared with the Reference case in 2025 and 3.5 gigawatts of additional capacity in 2040. From 2025 through 2040, more CHP capacity is installed in the No Sunset case than in the Extended Policy case. CHP capacity is 0.3 gigawatts higher in the No Sunset Case than in the Extended Policies Case in 2025 and 1.2 gigawatts higher in 2040. Although the Extended Policies case includes a higher tax benefit for CHP than the No Sunset case, which by itself provides greater incentive to build CHP capacity, electricity prices are lower in the Extended Policies case than in the No Sunset case starting around 2020, and the difference increases over time. Lower electricity prices, all else equal, reduce the economic attractiveness of CHP. Also, the median size of industrial CHP units size is 10 megawatts , and many CHP systems are well within the 50-megawatt total system size, which means that relaxing the size constraint is not as strong an incentive for investment as is allowing the current tax credit for new CHP investments to continue after 2016.
Natural gas consumption averages 9.7 quadrillion Btu per year in the industrial sector from 2011 to 2040 in the No Sunset case—about 0.1 quadrillion Btu, or 0.9 percent, above the level in the Reference case. Over the course of the projection, the difference in natural gas consumption between the No Sunset case and the Reference case is small but increases steadily. In 2025, natural gas consumption in the No Sunset case is approximately 0.1 quadrillion Btu higher than in the Reference Case, and in 2040 it is 0.2 quadrillion Btu higher. Natural gas consumption in the Extended Policies case is virtually the same as in the No Sunset case through 2030. After 2030, refinery use of natural gas stabilizes in the Extended Policies case as continued increases in CAFE standards reduce demand for petroleum products.
Transportation energy consumption
The Extended Policies case differs from the Reference and No Sunset cases in assuming that the CAFE standards recently finalized by EPA and NHTSA for MY 2017 through 2025 (which call for a 4.1-percent annual average increase in fuel economy for new LDVs) are extended through 2040 with an assumed average annual increase of 1.4 percent. Sales of vehicles that do not rely solely on a gasoline internal combustion engines for both motive and accessory power (including those that use diesel, alternative fuels, or hybrid electric systems) play a substantial role in meeting the higher fuel economy standards after 2025, growing to almost 72 percent of new LDV sales in 2040, compared with about 49 percent in the Reference case.
LDV energy consumption declines in the Reference case from 16.1 quadrillion Btu (8.7 million barrels per day) in 2011 to 14.0 quadrillion Btu (7.7 million barrels per day) in 2025 as a result of the increase in CAFE standards. Extension of the increases in CAFE standards in the Extended Policies case further reduces LDV energy consumption to 11.9 quadrillion Btu (6.5 million barrels per day) in 2040, or about 8 percent lower than in the Reference case. Petroleum and other liquid fuels consumption in the transportation sector is virtually identical through 2025 in the Reference and Extended Policies cases but declines in the Extended Policies case from 13.3 million barrels per day in 2025 to 12.3 million barrels per day in 2040, as compared with 13.0 million barrels per day in 2040 in the Reference case (Figure 14).
Renewable electricity generation
The extension of tax credits for renewables through 2040 would, over the long run, lead to more rapid growth in renewable generation than in the Reference case. When the renewable tax credits are extended without extending energy efficiency standards, as assumed in the No Sunset case, there is a significant increase in renewable generation in 2040 compared to the Reference case (Figure 15). Extending both renewable tax credits and energy efficiency standards in the Extended Policies case results in more modest growth in renewable generation, because renewable generation is a significant source of new generation to meet load growth, and enhanced energy efficiency standards tend to reduce overall electricity consumption and the need for new generation resources.
The AEO2013 Reference case does not reflect the provisions of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (P.L. 112-240) passed on January 1, 2013 , which extends the PTCs for renewable generation beyond what is included in the AEO2013 Reference case. While this legislation was completed too late for inclusion in the Reference case, EIA did complete an alternative case that examined key energy-related provisions of that legislation, the most important of which is the extension of the PTC for renewable generation. A brief summary of those results is presented in the box, "Effects of energy provisions in the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012."
On January 1, 2013, Congress passed the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (ATRA). The law, among other things, extended several provisions for tax credits to the energy sector. Although the law was passed too late to be incorporated in the Annual Energy Outlook 2013 (AEO2013) Reference case, a special case was prepared to analyze some of its key provisions, including the extension of tax credits for utility-scale renewables, residential energy efficiency improvements, and biofuels . The analysis found that the most significant impact on energy markets came from extending the production tax credits (PTCs) for utility-scale wind, and from changing the PTC qualification criteria from being in service on December 31, 2013, to being under construction by December 31, 2013, for all eligible utility-scale technologies. Although there is some uncertainty about what criteria will be used to define "under construction," this analysis assumes that the effective length of the extension is equal to the typical project development time for a qualifying project. For wind, the effective extension is 3 years.
Compared with the AEO2013 Reference case, ATRA increases renewable generation, primarily from wind (Figure 16). Renewable generation in 2040 is about 2 percent higher in the ATRA case than in the Reference case, with the greatest growth occurring in the near term. In 2016, renewable generation in the ATRA case exceeds that in the Reference case by nearly 9 percent. Almost all the increase comes from wind generation, which in 2016 is about 34 percent higher in the ATRA case than in the Reference case. In 2040, however, wind generation is only 17 percent higher than projected in the Reference case. These results indicate that, while the short-term extension does result in additional wind generation capacity, some builds that otherwise would occur later in the projection period are moved up in time to take advantage of the extended tax credit. The increase in wind generation partially displaces other forms of generation in the Reference case, both renewable and nonrenewable—particularly solar, biomass, coal, and natural gas.
ATRA does not have significant effects on electricity or delivered natural gas prices and generally does not result in a difference of more than 1 percent either above or below Reference case prices. In the longer term (beyond 2020), electricity and natural gas prices generally both are slightly lower in the ATRA case, as increased wind capacity reduces variable fuel costs in the power sector and reduces the demand for natural gas.
Other ATRA provisions analyzed had minimal impact on all energy measures, primarily limited to short-term reductions in renewable fuel prices and a one-year window for residential customers to get tax credits for certain efficiency expenditures. Provisions of the act not addressed in this analysis are likely to have only modest impacts because of their limited scale, scope, and timing.
In the No Sunset and Extended Policies cases, renewable generation more than doubles from 2011 to 2040, as compared with a 64-percent increase in the Reference case. In 2040, the share of total electricity generation accounted for by renewables is between 22 and 23 percent in both the No Sunset and Extended Policies cases, as compared with 16 percent in the Reference case.
Construction of wind-generation units slows considerably in the Reference case from recent construction rates, following the assumed expiration of the tax credit for wind power in 2012. The combination of slow growth in electricity demand, little impact from state-level renewable generation requirements, and low prices for competing fuels like natural gas keeps growth relatively low until around 2025, when load growth finally catches up with installed capacity, and natural gas prices increase to a level at which wind is a cost-competitive option in some regions. Extending the PTC for wind spurs a brief surge in near-term development by 2014, but the factors that limit development through 2025 in the Reference case still largely apply, and growth from 2015 to about 2025 is slow, in spite of the availability of tax credits during the 10-year period. When the market picks up again after 2025, availability of the tax credits spurs additional wind development over Reference case levels. Wind generation in the No Sunset case is about 27 percent higher than in the Reference case in 2025 and 86 percent higher in 2040.
In the near term, the continuation of tax credits for solar generation results in a continuation of recent growth trends for this resource. The solar tax credits are assumed to expire in 2016 in the Reference case, after which the growth of solar generation slows significantly. Eventually, economic conditions become favorable for utility-scale solar without the federal tax credits, and the growth rate picks up substantially after 2025. With the extension of the ITC, growth continues throughout the projection period. Solar generation in the No Sunset case in 2040 is more than 30 times the 2011 level and more than twice the level in 2040 in the Reference case.
The impacts of the tax credit extensions on geothermal and biomass generation are mixed. Although the tax credits do apply to both geothermal and biomass resources, the structure of the tax credits, along with other market dynamics, makes wind and solar projects relatively more attractive. Over most of the projection period, geothermal and biomass generation are lower with the tax credits available than in the Reference case. In 2040, generation from both resources in the No Sunset and Extended Policies cases is less than 10 percent below the Reference case levels. However, generation growth lags significantly through 2020 with the tax credit extensions, and generation in 2020 from both resources is about 20 percent lower in the No Sunset and Extended Policy cases than in the Reference case.
After 2025, renewable generation in the No Sunset and Extended Policies cases starts to increase more rapidly than in the Reference case. As a result, generation from nuclear and fossil fuels is below Reference case levels. Natural gas represents the largest source of displaced generation. In 2040, electricity generation from natural gas is 13 percent lower in the No Sunset case and 16 percent lower in the Extended Policies case than in the Reference case (Figure 17).
Energy-related CO2 emissions
In the No Sunset and Extended Policies cases, lower overall fossil energy use leads to lower levels of energy-related CO2 emissions than in the Reference case. In the Extended Policies case, the emissions reduction is larger than in the No Sunset case. From 2011 to 2040, energy-related CO2 emissions are reduced by a cumulative total of 4.6 billion metric tons (a 2.8-percent reduction over the period) in the Extended Policies case relative to the Reference case projection, as compared with 1.7 billion metric tons (a 1.0-percent reduction over the period) in the No Sunset case (Figure 18). The increase in fuel economy standards assumed for new LDVs in the Extended Policies case is responsible for 11.4 percent of the total cumulative reduction in CO2 emissions from 2011 to 2040 in comparison with the Reference case. The balance of the reduction in CO2 emissions is a result of greater improvement in appliance efficiencies and increased penetration of renewable electricity generation.
Most of the emissions reductions in the No Sunset case result from increases in renewable electricity generation. Consistent with current EIA conventions and EPA practice, emissions associated with the combustion of biomass for electricity generation are not counted, because they are assumed to be balanced by carbon absorption when the plant feedstock is grown. Relatively small incremental reductions in emissions are attributable to renewables in the Extended Policies case, mainly because electricity demand is lower than in the Reference case, reducing the consumption of all fuels used for generation, including biomass.
In both the No Sunset and Extended Policies cases, water heating, space cooling, and space heating together account for most of the emissions reductions from Reference case levels in the buildings sector. In the industrial sector, the Extended Policies case projects reduced emissions as a result of decreases in electricity purchases and petroleum use.
Energy prices and tax credit payments
With lower levels of fossil energy use and more consumption of renewable fuels stimulated by tax credits in the No Sunset and Extended Policies cases, energy prices are lower than in the Reference case. In 2040, average delivered natural gas prices (2011 dollars) are $0.29 per million Btu (2.7 percent) and $0.59 per million Btu (5.4 percent) lower in the No Sunset and Extended Policies cases, respectively, than in the Reference case (Figure 19), and electricity prices are 3.9 percent and 6.3 percent lower than in the Reference case (Figure 20).
The reductions in energy consumption and CO2 emissions in the Extended Policies case are accompanied by higher equipment costs for consumers and revenue reductions for the U.S. government. From 2013 to 2040, residential and commercial consumers spend, on average, an additional $20 billion per year (2011 dollars) for newly purchased end-use equipment, DG systems, and residential building shell improvements in the Extended Policies case as compared with the Reference case. On the other hand, residential and commercial customers save an average of $30 billion per year on energy purchases.
Tax credits paid to consumers in the buildings sector (or, from the government's perspective, reduced revenue) in the No Sunset case average $4 billion (2011 dollars) more per year than in the Reference case, which assumes that existing tax credits expire as currently scheduled, mostly by 2016.
The largest response to federal tax incentives for new renewable generation is seen in the No Sunset case, with extension of the PTC and the 30-percent ITC resulting in annual average reductions in government tax revenues of approximately $2.3 billion from 2011 to 2040, as compared with $650 million per year in the Reference case.
Liquid fuels  play a vital role in the U.S. energy system and economy, and access to affordable liquid fuels has contributed to the nation's economic prosperity. However, the extent of U.S. reliance on imported oil has often been raised as a matter of concern over the past 40 years. U.S. net imports of petroleum and other liquid fuels as a share of consumption have been one of the most watched indicators in national and global energy analyses. After rising steadily from 1950 to 1977, when it reached 47 percent by the most comprehensive measure, U.S. net import dependence declined to 27 percent in 1985. Between 1985 and 2005, net imports of liquid fuels as a share of consumption again rose, reaching 60 percent in 2005. Since that time, however, the trend toward growing U.S. dependence on liquid fuels imports has again reversed, with the net import share falling to an estimated 41 percent in 2012, and with EIA projecting further significant declines in 2013 and 2014. The decline in net import dependence since 2005 has resulted from several disparate factors, and continued changes in those and other factors will determine how this indicator evolves in the future. Key questions include:
- What are the key determinants of U.S. liquid fuels supply and demand?
- Will the supply and demand trends that have reduced dependence on net imports since 2005 intensify or abate?
- What supply and demand developments could yield an outcome in which the United States is no longer a net importer of liquid fuels?
This discussion considers potential changes to the U.S. energy system that are inherently speculative and should be viewed as what-if cases. The four cases that are discussed include two cases (Low Oil and Gas Resources and High Oil and Gas Resources) in which only the supply assumptions are varied, and two cases (Low/No Net Imports and High Net Imports) in which both supply and demand assumptions change. The changes in these cases generate wide variation from the liquid fuels import dependence values seen in the AEO2013 Reference case, but they should not be viewed as spanning the range of possible outcomes. Cases in which both supply and demand assumptions are modified show the greatest changes. In the Low/No Net Imports case, the United States ceases to be a net liquid fuels importer in the mid-2030s, and by 2040 U.S. net exports are 8 percent of total U.S. liquid fuel production. In contrast, in the High Net Imports case, net petroleum import dependence is above 44 percent in 2040, higher than the Reference case level of 37 percent but still well below the 60-percent level seen in 2005. Cases in which only supply assumptions are varied show intermediate levels of change in liquid fuels import dependence.
As the case names suggest, the Low Oil and Gas Resource case incorporates less-optimistic oil and natural gas resource assumptions than those in the Reference case, while the High Oil and Gas Resource case does the opposite. The other two cases combine different oil and natural gas resource assumptions with changes in assumptions that influence the demands for liquid fuels. The Low/No Net Imports case simulates an environment in which U.S. energy production grows rapidly while domestic consumption of liquid fuels declines. Conversely, the High Net Imports case combines the Low Oil and Gas Resource case assumptions with demand-related assumptions including slower improvements in vehicle efficiency, higher levels of vehicle miles traveled (VMT) relative to the Reference case, and reduced use of alternative transportation fuels.
A key contributing factor to the recent decline in net import dependence has been the rapid growth of U.S. oil production from tight onshore formations, which has followed closely after the rapid growth of natural gas production from similar types of resources. Projections of future production trends inevitably reflect many uncertainties regarding the actual level of resources available, the difficulty in extracting them, and the evolution of the technologies (and associated costs) used to recover them. To represent these uncertainties, the assumptions used in the High and Low Oil and Gas Resource cases represent significant deviations from the Reference case.
Estimates of technically recoverable resources from the rapidly developing tight oil formations are particularly uncertain and change over time as new information is gained through drilling, production, and technology experimentation. Over the past decade, as more tight and shale formations have gone into commercial production, estimates of technically and economically recoverable resources have generally increased. Technically recoverable resource estimates, however, embody many assumptions that might not prove to be true over the long term, over the entire range of tight or shale formations, or even within particular formations. For example, the tight oil resource estimates in the Reference case assume that production rates achieved in a limited portion of a given formation are representative of the entire formation, even though neighboring tight oil well production rates can vary widely. Any specific tight or shale formation can vary significantly across the formation with respect to relevant characteristics , resulting in widely varying rates of well production. The application of refinements to current technologies, as well as new technological advancements, can also have a significant but highly uncertain impact on the recoverability of tight and shale crude oil.
As shown in Table 5, the High and Low Oil and Gas Resource cases were developed with alternative crude oil and natural gas resource assumptions giving higher and lower technically recoverable resources than assumed in the Reference case. While these cases do not represent upper and lower bounds on future domestic oil and natural gas supply, they allow for an examination of the potential effects of higher and lower domestic supply on energy demand, imports, and prices.
The Low Oil and Gas Resource case only reflects the uncertainty around tight oil and shale gas resources. The resource estimates in the Reference case are based on crude oil and natural gas production rates achieved in a limited portion of the tight or shale formation and are assumed to be representative of the entire formation. However, the variability in formation characteristics described earlier can also affect the estimated ultimate recovery (EUR) of wells. For the Low Oil and Gas Resource case, the EUR per tight and shale well is assumed to be 50 percent lower than in the AEO2013 Reference case. All other resource assumptions are unchanged from the Reference case.
The High Oil and Gas Resource case reflects a broad-based increase in crude oil and natural gas resources. Optimism regarding increased supply has been buoyed by recent advances in crude oil and natural gas production that resulted in an unprecedented annual increase in U.S. crude oil production in 2012. The AEO2013 Reference case shows continued near-term production growth followed by a decline in U.S. production after 2020. The High Oil and Gas Resource case presents a scenario in which U.S. crude oil production continues to expand after about 2020 due to assumed higher technically recoverable tight oil resources, as well as undiscovered resources in Alaska and the offshore Lower 48 states. In addition, the maximum annual penetration rate for GTL technology is doubled compared to the Reference case.
The tight and shale resources are increased by changing both the EUR per well and the well spacing. A doubling in tight and shale well EUR, when assumed to occur through raising the production type curves  across the board, is responsible for the significantly faster increases in production and is also a contributing factor in avoiding the production decline during the projection period. This assumption change is quite optimistic and may alternatively be considered as a proxy for other changes or combinations of changes that have yet to be observed.
Although initial production rates have increased over the past few years, it is too early to conclude that overall EURs have increased and will continue to increase. Instead, producers may just be recovering the resource more quickly, resulting in a more dramatic decline in production later, with little impact on the well's overall EUR. The decreased well spacing reflects less the capability to drill wells closer together (i.e., avoid interference) and instead more the discovery of and production from other shale plays that are not yet in commercial development. These may either be stacked in the same formation or reflect future technological innovations that would bring into production plays that are otherwise not amenable to current hydraulic fracturing technology.
Other resources also are assumed to contribute to supply, as technological or other unforeseen changes improve their prospects. The resource assumptions for the offshore Lower 48 states in the High Oil and Gas Resource case reflect the possibility that resources may be substantially higher than assumed in the Reference case. Resource estimates for most of the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf are uncertain, particularly for resources in undeveloped regions where there has been little or no exploration and development activity, and where modern seismic survey data are lacking . The increase in crude oil resources in Alaska reflects the possibility that there may be more crude oil on the North Slope, including tight oil. It does not, however, reflect an opening of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to exploration or production activity. Finally, modest production from kerogen (oil shale) resources, which remains below 140,000 barrels per day through the 2040 projection horizon, is included in the High Oil and Gas Resource case.
Reductions in demand for liquid fuels in some uses, such as personal transportation and home heating, coupled with slow growth in other applications, have been another key contributing factor in the decline of the nation's net dependence on imported liquid fuels since 2005. As with supply assumptions, the key analytic assumptions that drive future trends in liquid fuels demand in EIA's projections are subject to considerable uncertainty. The most important assumptions affecting future demand for liquids fuels include:
- The future level of activities that use liquid fuels, such as VMT
- The future efficiency of equipment that uses liquid fuels, such as automobiles, trucks, and aircraft
- The future extent of fuel switching that replaces liquid fuels with other fuel types, such as liquefied natural gas (LNG), biofuels, or electricity.
Two alternative sets of demand assumptions that lead to higher or lower demand for liquid fuels than in the AEO2013 Reference case are outlined below. The two alternative scenarios are then applied in conjunction with the High and Low Oil and Gas Resource cases to develop the Low/No Net Import and High Net Import cases.
Vehicle miles traveled
Projected fuel use by LDVs is directly proportional to light-duty VMT, which can be influenced by policy, but it is driven primarily by market factors, demography, and consumer preferences. All else being equal, VMT is more likely to grow when the driving-age population is growing, economic activity is robust, and fuel prices are moderate. For example, there is a strong linkage between economic activity, employment, and commuting. In addition, there is a correlation between income and discretionary travel that reinforces the economy-VMT link. Turning to demography, factors such as the population level, age distribution, and household composition are perhaps most important for VMT. For example, lower immigration would lead to a smaller U.S. population over time, lowering VMT. The aging of the U.S. population continues and will also have long-term effects on VMT trends, as older drivers do not behave in the same ways as younger or middle-aged drivers. At times, the factors that influence VMT intertwine in ways that change long-term trends in U.S. driving and fuel consumption. For example, the increase in two-income families that occurred beginning in the 1970s created a surge in VMT that involved both economic activity and demographics.
Alternative modes of travel affect VMT to the degree that the population substitutes other travel services for personal LDVs. The level of change is related to the cost, convenience, and geographic extent of mass transit, rail, biking, and pedestrian travel service options. Car-sharing services, which have grown in popularity in recent years, could discourage personal vehicle VMT by putting more of the cost of incremental vehicle use on the margin when compared with traditional vehicle ownership or leasing, where many of the major costs of vehicle use are incurred at the time a vehicle is acquired, registered, and insured. Improvements in the fuel efficiency of vehicles, however, could increase VMT by lowering the marginal costs of driving. In recent analyses supporting the promulgation of new final fuel economy and GHG standards for LDVs in MY 2017 through 2025, NHTSA and EPA applied a 10-percent rebound in travel to reflect the lower fueling costs of more efficient vehicles . Both higher and lower values for the rebound have been advanced by various analysts .
Other types of technological change also can affect projected VMT growth. E-commerce, telework, and social media can supplant (or complement) personal vehicle use. Some analysts have suggested an association between rising interest in social media and a decline in the rates at which driving-age youth secure driver licenses; however, that decline also could be related to recent weakness in the economy.
Many of the factors reviewed above were also addressed in the August 2012 National Petroleum Council Future Transportation Fuels study . That study considered numerous specific research efforts, as well as available summaries of the literature on VMT, and concluded that the economic and demographic factors remain dominant. The VMT scenario adopted for most of the analysis in that study reflected declining compound annual growth rates of VMT over time, with the growth rate in VMT, which was 3.1 percent in the 1971-1995 and 2.0 percent in the 1996-2007 periods, falling to under 1 percent after 2035.
In the AEO2013 Reference case, the compound annual rate of growth in light-duty VMT over the period from 2011 to 2040 is 1.2 percent—well below the historical record through 2005 but significantly higher than the average annual light-duty VMT growth rate of 0.7 percent from 2005 through 2011. The 2005-2011 period was marked by generally poor economic performance, high unemployment, and high liquid fuel prices, all of which likely contributed to lower VMT growth. While VMT growth rates are expected to rise as the economy and employment levels improve, it remains to be seen to what extent such effects might be counteracted or reinforced by some of the other market factors identified above.
The low demand scenario used in the Low/No Net Imports case holds the growth rate of light-duty VMT over the 2011-2040 period at 0.2 percent per year, lower than its 2005-2011 growth rate. The application of a lower growth rate over a 29-year projection period results in total light-duty VMT 26 percent below the Reference case level in 2040. With population growth at 0.9 percent per year, this implies a decline of 0.7 percent per year in VMT per capita. VMT per licensed driver, which increases by 0.3 percent per year in the AEO2013 Reference case, declines at a rate of 0.8 percent per year in the Low/No Net Imports case. In the High Net Imports case, which assumes more robust demand than in the Reference case, the VMT projection remains close to that in the Reference case, with higher demand resulting from other factors.
Turning to vehicle efficiency, the rising fuel economy of new LDVs already has contributed to recent trends in liquid fuels use. Looking forward, the EPA and NHTSA have established joint CAFE and GHG emissions standards through MY 2025. The new CAFE standards result in a fuel economy, measured as a program compliance value, of 47.3 mpg for new LDVs in 2025, based on the distribution of production of passenger cars and light trucks by footprint in AEO2013. The EPA and NHTSA also have established a fuel efficiency and GHG emissions program for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles for MY 2014-18. The fuel consumption standards for MY 2014-15 set by NHTSA are voluntary, while the standards for MY 2016 and beyond are mandatory, except those for diesel engines, which are mandatory starting in 2017.
The AEO2013 Reference case does not consider any possible reduction in fuel economy standards resulting from the scheduled midterm review of the CAFE standards for MY 2023-25, or for any increase in fuel economy standards that may be put in place for model years beyond 2025. The low demand scenario in this article adopts the assumption that post-2025 LDV CAFE standards increase at an average annual rate of 1.4 percent, the same assumption made in the AEO2013 Extended Policies case. In contrast, the high demand scenario assumes some reduction in current CAFE standards following the scheduled midterm review.
In the AEO2013 Reference case, fuel switching to natural gas in the form of compressed natural gas (CNG) and LNG already is projected to achieve significant penetration of natural gas as a fuel for heavy-duty trucks. In the Reference case, natural gas use in heavy-duty vehicles increases to 1 trillion cubic feet per year in 2040, displacing 0.5 million barrels per day of diesel use. The use of natural gas in the Reference case is economically driven. Even after the substantial costs of liquefaction or compression, fuel costs for LNG or CNG are expected to be well below the projected cost of diesel fuel on an energy-equivalent basis. The fuel cost advantage is expected to be large enough in the view of a significant number of operators to offset the considerably higher acquisition costs of vehicles equipped to use these fuels, in addition to offsetting other disadvantages, such as reduced maximum range without refueling, a lower number of refueling locations, reduced volume capacity in certain applications, and an uncertain resale market for vehicles using alternative fuels. For purposes of the low demand scenario for liquid fuels, factors limiting the use of natural gas in heavy-duty vehicles are assumed to be less significant, allowing for higher rates of market penetration.
Natural gas could also prove to be an attractive fuel in other transportation applications. The use of LNG as a fuel for rail transport, which had earlier been considered for environmental reasons, is now under active consideration by major U.S. railroads for economic reasons, motivated by the same gap between the cost of diesel fuel and LNG now and over the projection period. Because all modern railroad locomotives use electric motors to drive their wheels, a switch from diesel to LNG would entail the use of a different fuel to drive the onboard electric generation system. Retrofits have been demonstrated, but new locomotives with generating units specifically optimized for LNG could prove to be more attractive. Because railroads already maintain their own on-system refueling infrastructure, they may be less subject to the concern that truckers considering a switch to alternative fuel vehicles might have regarding the risks that natural gas refueling systems they require would not actually be built. The high concentration of ownership in the U.S. railroad industry could also facilitate a rapid switch toward LNG refueling, with the associated transition to new equipment, under the right circumstances because there are only a few owners making the decisions.
Marine operators have traditionally relied on oil-based fuels, with large oceangoing vessels almost exclusively fueled with heavy high-sulfur fuel oil that typically sells at a discount relative to other petroleum products. Under the International Maritime Organization's International Convention on the Prevention of Pollution from Ships agreement (MARPOL Annex VI) , the use of heavy high-sulfur fuel oil in international shipping started being phased out for environmental reasons in 2010. Although LNG is one possible option, there are many cost and logistical challenges, including the high cost of retrofits, the long lifetime of existing vessels, and relatively low utilization rates for many routes that will have adverse impacts on the economics of marine LNG refueling infrastructure. Unlike the heavy-duty truck market, there has not yet been an LNG-fueled product offered for general use by manufacturers of marine or rail equipment, making cost and performance comparisons inherently speculative.
In addition to the demand assumptions discussed above, other assumption changes were made to capture potential shifts in vehicle cost and consumer preference for LDVs powered by alternative fuels. In the Low/No Net Imports case, the costs of efficiency technologies and battery technologies were lowered, and the market penetration of E85 fuel was increased, relative to the Reference case levels. With regard to E85, assumptions about consumer preference for flex-fuel vehicles were altered to allow for increases in vehicle sales and E85 demand, leading to greater use of domestically-produced biofuel than projected in the Reference case.
Table 6 summarizes the demand-side assumptions in the alternative demand scenarios for liquid fuels. As with the supply assumptions, the assumptions used in the higher and lower demand cases represent substantial deviations from the AEO2013 Reference case, and they might instead be realized in terms of other, as-yet-unforeseen developments in technology, economics, or policy.
The cases considered show how the future share of net imports in total U.S. liquid fuel use varies with changes in assumptions about the key factors that drive domestic supply and demand for liquid fuels (Figure 24). Some of the assumptions in the Low/No Net imports case, such as assumed increases in LDV fuel economy after 2025 and access to offshore resources, could be influenced by future energy policies. However, other assumptions in this case, such as the greater availability of onshore technically recoverable oil and natural gas resources, depend on geological outcomes that cannot be influenced by policy measures; and economic, consumer, or technological factors may likewise be unaffected or only slightly affected by policy measures.
Net imports and prices
In the Low/No Net Imports case, U.S. net imports of liquid fuels are eliminated in the mid-2030s, and the United States becomes a modest net exporter of those fuels by 2040. As discussed above, this case combines optimistic assumptions about the availability of domestic oil and natural gas resources with assumptions that lower demand for liquid fuels, including a decline in VMT per capita, increased switching to natural gas fuels for transportation (including heavy-duty trucks, rail, boats, and ships), continued significant improvements in the fuel efficiency of new vehicles beyond 2025, wider availability and lower costs of electric battery technologies, and greater market penetration of biofuels and other nonpetroleum liquids. Although other combinations of assumptions, or unforeseen technology breakthroughs, might produce a comparable outcome, the assumptions in the Low/No Net Imports case illustrate the magnitude and type of changes that would be required for the United States to end its reliance on net imports of liquid fuels, which began in 1946 and has continued to the present day. Moreover, regardless of how much the United States is able to reduce its reliance on imported liquids, it will not be entirely insulated from price shocks that affect the global oil market .
As shown in Figure 24, the supply assumptions of the High Oil and Gas Resource case alone result in a decline in net import dependence to 7 percent in 2040, compared to 37 percent in the Reference case, with U.S. crude oil production rising to 10.2 million barrels per day in 2040, or 4.1 million barrels per day above the Reference case level. Tight oil production accounts for more than 77 percent (or 3 million barrels per day) of the difference in production between the two cases. Production of NGL in the United States also exceeds the Reference case level.
As a result of higher U.S. liquid fuels production, Brent crude oil prices in the High Oil and Gas Resource case are lower than in the Reference case, which also lowers motor gasoline and diesel prices to the transportation sector, encouraging greater consumption and partially dampening the projected decline in net dependence on liquid fuel imports. In the High Oil and Gas Resource case, the reduction in motor fuels prices increases fuel consumption in 2040 by 350 thousand barrels per day in the transportation sector and 230 thousand barrels per day in the industrial sector, which accounts for nearly all of the increase in total U.S. liquid fuels consumption (600 thousand barrels per day) relative to the Reference case total in 2040.
Global market, the economy, and refining
The addition of assumptions that slow the growth of demand for liquid fuels in the Low/No Net Imports case more than offsets the increase in demand that results from lower liquid fuel prices, so that total liquid fuels consumption in 2040 is 2.1 million barrels per day lower than projected in the Reference case. The combination of high crude oil and natural gas resources and lower demand for liquid fuels pushes Brent crude oil prices to $29 per barrel below the Reference case level in 2040. However, given the cumulative impact of factors that tend to raise world oil prices in real terms over the projection period, inflation-adjusted crude oil prices in the Low/No Net Imports case are still above today's price level.
One of the most uncertain aspects of the analysis concerns the effect on the global market for liquid fuels, which is highly integrated. Although the analysis reflects price effects that are based on the relative scale of the changes in U.S. domestic supply and net U.S. imports of liquid fuels within the overall international crude oil market, strategic choices made by the leading oil-exporting countries could result in price and quantity effects that differ significantly from those presented here. Moreover, regardless of how much the United States reduces its reliance on imported liquids, consumer prices will not be insulated from global oil prices if current policies and regulations remain in effect and world markets for crude oil streams of sulfur quality remain closely aligned absent transportation bottlenecks .
Although the focus is mainly on liquid fuels markets, the more optimistic resource assumptions in the High Oil and Gas Resource case also lead to more natural gas production. The higher productivity of shale and tight gas wells puts downward pressure on natural gas prices and thus encourages increased domestic consumption of natural gas (38 trillion cubic feet in the High Oil and Gas Resource case, compared to 30 trillion cubic feet in the Reference case in 2040) and higher net exports (both pipeline and LNG) of natural gas. As a result, projected domestic natural gas production in 2040 is considerably higher in the High Oil and Gas Resource case (45 trillion cubic feet) than in the Reference case (33 trillion cubic feet).
The Low Oil and Gas Resource case illustrates the implications of an outcome in which U.S. oil and gas resources turn out to be smaller than expected in the Reference case. In this case, domestic crude oil production peaks in 2016 at 6.9 million barrels per day, declines to 5.9 million barrels per day in 2028, and remains relatively flat (between 5.8 and 6.0 million barrels per day) through 2040. The lower well productivity in this case puts upward pressure on natural gas prices, resulting in lower natural gas consumption and production. In 2040, U.S. natural gas production is 27 trillion cubic feet in the Low Oil and Gas Resource case, compared with 33 trillion cubic feet in the Reference case.
These alternative cases may also have significant implications for the broader economy. Liquid fuels provide power and raw materials (feedstocks) for a substantial portion of the U.S. economy, and the macroeconomic impacts of both the High Oil and Gas Resource case and the Low/No Net Imports case suggest that significant economic benefits would accrue if some version of those futures were realized (see discussion of NGL later in "Issues in focus"). This is in spite of the fact that petroleum remains a global market in each of the scenarios, which limits the price impacts for gasoline, diesel, and other petroleum-derived fuels. In the High Oil and Gas Resource case, increasing energy production has immediate benefits for the economy. U.S. industries produce more goods with 12 percent lower energy costs in 2025 and 15 percent lower energy costs in 2040. Consumers see roughly 10 percent lower energy prices in 2025, and 13 percent lower energy prices in 2040, as compared with the Reference case. Cheaper energy allows the economy to expand further, with real GDP attaining levels that are on average about 1 percent above those in the Reference case from 2025 through 2040, including growth in both aggregate consumption and investment.
The alternative cases also imply substantial changes in the future operations of U.S. petroleum refineries, as is particularly evident in the Low/No Net Imports case. Drastically reduced product consumption and increased nonpetroleum sources of transportation fuels, taken in isolation, would tend to reduce utilization of U.S. refineries. The combination of higher domestic crude supply and reduced crude runs in the refining sector would sharply reduce or eliminate crude oil imports and could potentially create market pressure for crude oil exports to balance crude supply with refinery runs. However, under current laws and regulations, crude exports require licenses that have not been issued except in circumstances involving exports to Canada or exports of limited quantities of specific crude streams, such as California heavy oil .
Rather than assuming a change in current policies toward crude oil exports, and recognizing the high efficiency and low operating costs of U.S. refineries relative to global competitors in the refining sector, exports of petroleum products, which are not subject to export licensing requirements, rise significantly to avoid the uneconomical unloading of efficient U.S. refinery capacity, continuing a trend that has already become evident over the past several years. Product exports rise until the incremental refining value of crude oil processed is equivalent to the cost of crude imports. To balance the rest of the world as a result of increased U.S. product exports, it is assumed that the increased volumes of U.S. liquid fuel product exports would result in a decrease in the volume of the rest of the world's crude runs, and that world consumption, net of U.S. exports, would also be reduced by an amount necessary to keep demand and supply volumes in balance.
Projected carbon dioxide emissions
Total U.S. CO2 emissions show the impacts of changing fuel prices through all the sectors of the economy. In the High Oil and Gas Resource case, the availability of more natural gas at lower prices encourages the electric power sector to increase its reliance on natural gas for electricity generation. Coal is the most affected, with coal displaced over the first part of the projection, and new renewable generation sources also affected after 2030 or so, resulting in projected CO2 emissions in the High Oil and Gas Resource case that exceed those in the Reference case after 2035 (Figure 25). With less-plentiful and more-expensive natural gas in the Low Oil and Gas Resource and High Net Imports cases, the reverse is true, with fewer coal retirements leading to higher CO2 emissions than in the Reference case early in the projection period. Later in the projection, however, the electric power sector turns first to renewable technologies earlier in the Low Oil and Gas Resource and High Net Imports cases, and after 2030 invests in more nuclear plants, reducing CO2 emissions from the levels projected in the Reference case. In the Low Oil and Gas Resource case, CO2 emissions are lower than in the Reference case starting in 2026. In the Low/No Net Imports case, annual CO2 emissions from the transportation sector continue to decline as a result of reduced travel demand; these emissions are conversely higher in the High Net Imports case. Figure 25 summarizes the CO2 emissions projections in the cases completed for this analysis.
Transportation from Comparison with other projections
Projections for natural gas consumption, production, imports, and prices differ significantly among the outlooks compared in Table 12. The variations result, in large part, from differences in underlying assumptions. For example, the AEO2013 Reference case assumes that current laws and regulations are unchanged through the projection period, whereas some of the other projections include assumptions about anticipated policy developments over the next 25 years. In particular, the AEO2013 Reference case does not incorporate any future changes in policy directed at carbon emissions or other environmental issues, whereas ExxonMobil and some of the other outlooks include explicit assumptions about policies aimed at reducing carbon emissions.
IHSGI and ICF project large increases in natural gas production and consumption over the projection period. IHSGI projects that, as production increases, prices will remain low and U.S. consumers, particularly in the electric power sector, will continue to benefit from an abundance of relatively inexpensive natural gas. In contrast, ICF projects that prices will rise at a more rapid rate than in the IHSGI projection. EVA projects growth in natural gas production, but at lower rates than IHSGI and ICF. Both EVA and ExxonMobil also project strong growth in natural gas consumption in the electric power sector through 2035. EVA differs from the others, however, by projecting strong growth in natural gas consumption despite a rise in natural gas prices to $8.00 per million Btu in 2035. Timing of the growth in consumption is somewhat different between the ExxonMobil projection and the other outlooks. ExxonMobil expects consumption to increase only through 2025, after which it remains relatively flat. The AEO2013 Reference case projects a smaller increase in natural gas consumption for electric power generation than in the other outlooks, with additional natural gas production allowing for a sharp increase in net exports, particularly as liquefied natural gas (LNG). The INFORUM projection shows a smaller rise in production and consumption of natural gas than in any of the other projections.
All the outlooks shown in Table 12 project increases in natural gas production from the 2011 production level of 23.0 trillion cubic feet. IHSGI projects the largest increase, to 36.1 trillion cubic feet in 2035—13.1 trillion cubic feet or 57 percent more than the 2011 levels—with most of the increase coming in the near term (9.3 trillion cubic feet from 2011 to 2025). An additional 1.5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas production is added from 2035 to 2040. In the ICF projection, natural gas production grows by 12.5 trillion cubic feet over the period from 2011, to 35.5 trillion cubic feet in 2035. More than one-half of the increase (6.5 trillion cubic feet) occurs before 2020. INFORUM projects the smallest increase in natural gas production, at only 4.9 trillion cubic feet from 2011 to the 2035 total of 27.9 trillion cubic feet.
The AEO2013 Reference case and EVA project more modest growth in natural gas production. In the AEO2013 Reference case and EVA projections, natural gas production grows to 31.4 trillion cubic feet in 2035, an increase of 8.4 trillion cubic feet from 2011 levels. The AEO2013 Reference case and EVA projections show slower growth in natural gas production from 2011 to 2025, at 5.6 trillion cubic feet and 6.9 trillion cubic feet, respectively. Although the AEO2013 Reference case shows the least aggressive near-term growth in natural gas production, it shows the strongest growth from 2025 to 2035 among the projections, with another increase of 1.8 trillion cubic feet from 2035 to 2040.
Differences among the projections for natural gas production generally coincide with differences in total natural gas consumption or net imports/exports. EVA projects positive growth in net imports throughout the projection period, driven by strong growth in natural gas consumption. Although the EVA projection shows significant growth in pipeline imports, it shows no growth in net LNG exports. In contrast, the IHSGI, ICF, and AEO2013 Reference case projections show net exports of natural gas starting on or before 2020. The AEO2013 Reference case projects the largest increase in net exports of natural gas, with net pipeline exports increasing alongside steady growth in net LNG exports. In the ICF projection, the United States becomes a net exporter of natural gas by 2020 but remains a net importer of pipeline through 2035. Combined net exports of natural gas grow to 0.7 trillion cubic feet in 2035 in the ICF projection, with all the growth accounted for by LNG exports, which increase by 1.5 trillion cubic feet from 2011 to 2035. IHSGI projects a U.S. shift from net importer to net exporter of natural gas after 2017, with net exports declining after 2024.
All the projections show total natural gas consumption growing throughout the projection periods, and most of them expect the largest increases in the electric power sector. IHSGI projects the greatest growth in natural gas consumption for electric power generation, driven by relatively low natural gas prices, followed by ExxonMobil and EVA, with somewhat higher projections for natural gas prices. The ICF projection shows less growth in natural gas consumption for electric power generation, despite lower natural gas prices, than in the EVA projection. In the AEO2013 Reference case and INFORUM projections, natural gas consumption for electric power generation is somewhat less than in the other outlooks. Some of that variation may be the result of differences in assumptions about potential fees on carbon emissions. For example, the ExxonMobil outlook assumes a tax on carbon emissions, whereas the AEO2013 Reference case does not.
Projections for natural gas consumption in the residential and commercial sectors are similar in the outlooks, with expected levels of natural gas use remaining relatively stable over time. The AEO2013 Reference case projects the lowest level of residential and commercial natural gas consumption, largely as a result of increases in equipment efficiencies, with projected consumption in those sectors falling by 0.1 trillion cubic feet from 2011 to 2040, to a level slightly below those projected by IHSGI and ICF. ExxonMobil projects a significant one-time decrease of 1.0 trillion cubic feet from 2020 to 2025.
The largest difference among the outlooks for natural gas consumption is in the industrial sector, where definitional differences can make accurate comparisons difficult. ExxonMobil and the AEO2013 Reference case both project increases in natural gas consumption in the industrial sector from 2011 to 2040 that are greater than 1.0 trillion cubic feet, with most of the growth in the AEO2013 Reference case occurring from 2015 to 2020. ICF projects the largest increase in industrial natural gas consumption, at 2.2 trillion cubic feet from 2011 to 2035, followed by EVA's projection of 1.8 trillion cubic feet over the same period. Although ExxonMobil projects a significant one-time decrease in industrial natural gas consumption—1.0 trillion cubic feet from 2025 to 2030—its projected level of industrial consumption in 2025, at 9.0 trillion cubic feet, is higher than in any of the other projections. Despite ExxonMobil's projected decrease in industrial natural gas consumption from 2025 to 2030, its projection for 2030 (8.0 trillion cubic feet) is second only to EVA's projection of 8.4 trillion cubic feet. IHSGI and INFORUM show modest increases in industrial natural gas consumption from their 2011 levels, to 6.9 trillion cubic feet in 2035 in both outlooks. Projected industrial natural gas consumption declines in the IHSGI projection after 2035, to 6.7 trillion cubic feet in 2040.
Only four of the outlooks included in Table 12 provide projections for Henry Hub natural gas spot prices. EVA shows the highest Henry Hub prices in 2035 and IHSGI the lowest. In the IHSGI projection, Henry Hub prices remain low through 2035, when they reach $4.98 per million Btu, compared with $3.98 per million Btu in 2011. Natural gas prices to the electric power sector rise from $4.87 per thousand cubic feet in 2011 to $5.47 per thousand cubic feet in 2035 in the IHSGI projection. The low Henry Hub prices in the IHSGI projection are supported by an abundant supply of relatively inexpensive natural gas, with only a small increase in net exports in comparison with the increase in the AEO2013 Reference case. EVA, in contrast, shows the Henry Hub price rising to a much higher level of $8.00 per million Btu in 2035, apparently as a result of stronger growth in natural gas consumption, particularly for electric power generation, and a lower level of natural gas exports. Indeed, the EVA outlook shows the U.S. remaining a net importer of natural gas through 2035.
Henry Hub natural gas prices in the ICF and AEO2013 Reference case projections for 2035—at $6.21 per million Btu and $6.32 per million Btu, respectively—fall within the price range bounded by IHSGI and EVA. In the AEO2013 Reference case, commercial, electric power, and industrial natural gas prices all rise by between $2 and $3 per thousand cubic feet from 2011 to 2035, while residential prices rise by $3.88 per thousand cubic feet over the same period. The residential sector is also the only sector for which the AEO2013 Reference case projects a decline in natural gas consumption to below 2011 levels in 2035. ICF projects a much smaller increase in delivered natural gas prices for the commercial, industrial, and electric power sectors, with prices rising to more than $2 per thousand cubic feet above 2011 levels by 2035 only in the electric power sector. With smaller price increases, ICF projects a much larger increase for natural gas consumption in the electric power and industrial sectors from 2011 to 2035 than in the AEO2013 Reference case.
6. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, "2017 and Later Model Year Light-Duty Vehicle Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards," Federal Register, Vol. 77, No. 199
(Washington, DC: October 15, 2012), https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2012/10/15/2012-21972/2017-and-latermodel-
7. Liquid motor fuels include diesel and liquid fuels from gas-to-liquids (GTL) processes. Liquid fuel volumes from GTL for motor vehicle use are estimated based on the ratio of onroad diesel and gasoline to total diesel and gasoline.
16. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, "2017 and Later Model Year Light-Duty Vehicle Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards; Final Rule," Federal Register, Vol. 77, No. 199 (Washington, DC: October 15, 2012), https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2012/10/15/2012-21972/2017-and-later-model-year-light-duty-vehicle-greenhouse-gas-emissions-and-corporate-average-fuel.
17. Fuel economy projection averages based on a 2010 baseline fleet. NHTSA alternatively lists projected compliance fuel economy averages based on the 2008 baseline fleet. EPA lists compliance-level average CO2 tailpipe emissions based solely on the 2008 baseline fleet.
18. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, "Light-Duty Vehicle Greenhouse Gas Emission Standards and Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards; Final Rule," Federal Register, Vol. 75, No. 88 (Washington, DC: May 7, 2010), https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2010/05/07/2010-8159/light-duty-vehicle-greenhouse-gas-emission-standards-and-corporate-average-fuel-economy-standards.
61. State of California, "Final Regulation Order, Subchapter 10. Climate Change, Article 4. Regulations to Achieve Greenhouse Gas Reductions, Subarticle 7. Low Carbon Fuel Standard" (Sacramento, CA: January 13, 2010), http://www.arb.ca.gov/regact/2009/lcfs09/finalfro.pdf.
62. California Air Resources Board, "Third Notice of Public Availability of Modified Text and Availability of Additional Documents and Information" (Sacramento, CA: September 17, 2012), http://www.arb.ca.gov/regact/2011/lcfs2011/lcfs3rdnot.pdf.
63. State of California, "Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) Supplemental Regulatory Advisory 10-04B" (Sacramento, CA: January 1, 2012), http://www.arb.ca.gov/fuels/lcfs/123111lcfs-rep-adv.pdf.
64. California Air Resources Board, "LCFS Enforcement Injunction is Lifted, All Outstanding Reports Now Due April 30, 2012" (Sacramento, CA: April 24, 2012), http://www.arb.ca.gov/fuels/lcfs/LCFS_Stay_Granted.pdf.
65. United States Internal Revenue Code, Title 26, Subtitle A—Income Taxes, §48(a)(2)(A)(ii), http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/ pkg/USCODE-2011-title26/pdf/USCODE-2011-title26-subtitleA-chap1-subchapA.pdf.
66. United States Internal Revenue Code, Title 26, Subtitle A—Income Taxes, §48(c)(3)(B)(iii), http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/ pkg/USCODE-2011-title26/pdf/USCODE-2011-title26-subtitleA-chap1-subchapA.pdf.
67. Calculations based on U.S. Energy Information Administration, Form EIA-860, Schedule 3, 2011 data (Washington, DC: January 9, 2013), http://www.eia.gov/electricity/data/eia860/index.html.
68. U.S. Congress, "American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012," P.L. 112-240, Sections 401 through 412, http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/PLAW-112publ240/pdf/PLAW-112publ240.pdf.
69. Modeled provisions based on U.S. Congress, "American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012," P.L. 112-240, Sections 401, 404, 405, 407, 408, 409, and 412, http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/PLAW-112publ240/pdf/PLAW-112publ240.pdf.
71. Liquid fuels consists of crude oil and condensate to petroleum refineries, refinery gain, NGPL, biofuels, and other liquid fuels produced from non-crude oil feedstocks such as CTL and GTL.
72. Geologic characteristics relevant for hydrocarbon extraction include depth, thickness, porosity, carbon content, pore pressure, clay content, thermal maturity, and water content.
73. A production type curve represents the expected production each year from a well. A wellâ€™s EUR equals the cumulative production of that well over a 30-year productive life, using current technology without consideration of economic or operating conditions. A description of a production type curve is provided in the Annual Energy Outlook 2012 "Issues in focus" article, "U.S. crude oil and natural gas resource uncertainty," http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/archive/aeo12/IF_all.cfm#uscrude.
74. A more detailed analysis of the uncertainty in offshore resources is presented in the Annual Energy Outlook 2011 "Issues in focus" article, "Potential of offshore crude oil and natural gas resources," http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/archive/aeo11/IF_all.cfm#potentialoffshore.
75. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, "2017 and Later Model Year Light-Duty Vehicle Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards: Final Rule," Federal Register, Vol. 77, No. 199 (Washington, DC: October 15, 2012), https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2012/10/15/2012-21972/2017-and-later-model-year-light-duty-vehicle-greenhouse-gas-emissions-and-corporate-average-fuel.
76. K.A. Small and K.Van Dender, "Fuel Efficiency and Motor Vehicle Travel: The Declining Rebound Effect," University of California, Irvine, Department of Economics, Working Paper #05-06-03 (Irvine, CA: August 18, 2007), http://www.economics.uci.edu/files/economics/docs/workingpapers/2005-06/Small-03.pdf.
77. National Petroleum Council, "Advancing Technology for America's Transportation Future" (Washington, DC: August 1, 2012), http://www.npc.org/FTF-report-080112/NPC-Fuels_Summary_Report.pdf.
78. International Maritime Organization, Information Resources on Air Pollution and Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions from International Shipping (Marpol Annex VI (SOX, NOX, ODS, VOC) / Greenhouse Gas (CO2) and Climate Change) (London, United Kingdom: December 23, 2011),http://www.imo.org/KnowledgeCentre/InformationResourcesOnCurrentTopics/AirPollutionand
79. U.S. Energy Information Administration, Could the United States become the leading global producer of liquid fuels, and how much does it matter to U.S. and world energy markets?," This Week in Petroleum (Washington, DC: December 19, 2012), http://www.eia.gov/oog/info/twip/twiparch/2012/121219/twipprint.html.
80. U.S. Energy Information Administration, "Could the United States become the leading global producer of liquid fuels, and how much does it matter to U.S. and world energy markets?," This Week in Petroleum (Washington, DC: December 19, 2012), http://www.eia.gov/oog/info/twip/twiparch/2012/121219/twipprint.html.
81. The circumstances under which the United States can and cannot export crude oil under current law are more fully described in U.S. Energy Information Administration, "Market implications of increased domestic production of light sweet crude oil?," This Week in Petroleum (Washington, DC: November 28, 2012), http://www.eia.gov/oog/info/twip/twiparch/2012/121128/twipprint.html.
124. The industrial sector includes manufacturing, agriculture, construction, and mining. The energy-intensive manufacturing sectors include food, paper, bulk chemicals, petroleum refining, glass, cement, steel, and aluminum.
126. S.C. Davis, S.W. Diegel, and R.G. Boundy, Transportation Energy Databook: Edition 31, ORNL-6987 (Oak Ridge, TN: July 2012), Chapter 2, Table 2.1, â€œU.S. Consumption of Total Energy by End-Use Sector, 1973-2011."
127. S.C. Davis, S.W. Diegel, and R.G. Boundy, Transportation Energy Databook: Edition 31, ORNL-6987 (Oak Ridge, TN: July 2012), Chapter 4, Table 4.6, "New Retail Sales of Trucks 10,000 Pounds GVWR and Less in the United States, 1970-2011."
128. U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Safety Administration, "Summary of Fuel Economy Performance" (Washington, DC: October 2012), http://www.nhtsa.gov/staticfiles/rulemaking/pdf/cafe/Oct2012_Summary_Report.pdf.
129. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, "Light-Duty Vehicle Greenhouse Gas Emission Standards and Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards; Final Rule," Federal Register, Vol. 75, No. 88 (Washington, DC: May 7, 2010), https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2010/05/07/2010-8159/light-duty-vehicle-greenhouse-gas-emission-standards-and-corporate-average-fuel-economy-standards.
130. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2017 and Later Model Year Light-Duty Vehicle Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards; Final Rule, Federal Register, Vol. 77, No. 199 (Washington, DC: October 15, 2012), https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2012/10/15/2012-21972/2017-and-later-model-year-light-duty-vehicle-greenhouse-gas-emissions-and-corporate-average-fuel.
131. Light-duty vehicle fuel economy includes alternative-fuel vehicles and banked credits towards compliance.
136. Next-generation biofuels include pyrolysis oils, biomassderived Fisher-Tropsch liquids, and renewable feedstocks used for on-site production of diesel and gasoline.
140. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, "EPA Finalizes 2012 Renewable Fuel Standards," EPA-420-F-11-044(Washington, DC: December 2011), http://www.epa.gov/otaq/fuels/renewablefuels/documents/420f11044.pdf.
- With more efficient light-duty vehicles, motor gasoline consumption declines while diesel fuel use grows, even as more natural gas is used in heavy-duty vehicles
- Natural gas consumption grows in industrial and electric power sectors as domesitc production also serves an expanding export market
- Energy-intensive industries show strong early growth in output
- Industrial and commercial sectors lead U.S. growth in primary enerby use
- Growth in transportation energy consumption flat across projection
- CAFE and greenhouse gas emissions standards boost light-duty vehicle fuel economy
- Travel demand for personal vehicles continues to grow, but more slowly than in the past
- Sales of alternative fuel, fuel flexible, and hybrid vehicles sales rise
- Heavy-duty vehicles dominate natural gas consumption in the transportation sector
- Industrial and electric power sectors lead U.S. growth in natural gas consumption
- Petroleum and other liquids consumption outside industrial sector is stagnant or declines
- U.S. consumption of cellulosic biofuels falls short of EISA2007 Renewable Fuels Standard target
- Efficiency standards shift consumption from motor gasoline to diesel fuel
Issues in Focus
- No Sunset and Extended Policies cases
- U.S. reliance on imported liquid fuels in alternative scenarios
Legislation and Regulation
- Greenhouse gas emissions and corporate average fuel economy standards for 2017 and later model year light-duty vehicles
- California low carbon fuel standard
Comparison with other projections