Trying to understand why American energy use will increase only 10%

The Department of Energy’s (DOE) Energy Information Administration (EIA) has released their Annual Energy Outlook for the USA with projections of energy production and consumption through 2040.

In the report they forecast that American energy use will rise from its 2014 total of 97.7 quads to a total in 2040 of 106.3 quads. That’s a rise of 10%.

Assumptions are everything when you forecast the future and the EIA is making some assumptions that look almost heroic. They seem to assume that every factor used in estimating energy consumption can rise by more than 10% but that energy use has that hard limit–something I don’t understand.


I noted yesterday that they predict that the U.S. GDP will almost double, from its current $14.232 trillion to $26.67 trillion in 2040. I’ll add now that they predict that average personal disposable income is set to rise from $10,755 in 2014 to $19,724 in 2040.

Disposable income rises by 75% but energy consumption rises only by 10%?

The EIA also predicts that housing starts will rise from 1.31 million in 2014 to 1.66 million in 2040.

Housing starts increase by 25% but energy consumption increases by only 10%?

Housing starts rise because the  EIA predicts that population will rise from 317 million in 2014 to 380.5 million in 2040.

Population rises by 20%, but energy consumption rises by only 10%?

The EIA predicts annual sales of light duty vehicles to rise from 15.64 million in 2014 to 17.93 million in 2040.

Car sales rise by 15% by energy consumption rises by only 10%?

Well, maybe we’ll be driving less? No. The EIA says that American drivers put 2,623 billion miles on their cars in 2014, but that will rise to 3,434 billion miles in 2040.

Vechicle miles rise 30% but energy consumption rises only 10%?

You get the picture. I’ll be back to look at other sectors tomorrow, I hope.


3 responses to “Trying to understand why American energy use will increase only 10%

  1. I think you need to develop more bureaucratic spreadsheet design expertise. The solution is simple:

    Layout the years in a horizontal row. The first line can be GDP, the second GDP growth, and the next few lines include those really useful economic parameters needed to impress the higher ups with your skills.

    The population growth figure has to accommodate the target number for illegal inmigrants who will be legalized by decree on a periodic basis.

    The mileage figure is an arbitrary number. Just use a multiplier like 1.01 to arrive at the desired target.

    To get energy consumption down you just use the energy efficiency. Dude, all they do is increase the miles per gallon. To get more miles per gallon they assume smart highways and bubbas drving tiny hybrids with a 20 hp engine charging the batteries. And that’s for bubbas. Californians will be riding pink electric mopeds.

  2. The only way energy growth is only 10% is if America is in deep decline.

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