Recently, the U.S. Energy Information Administration ("EIA") released its Annual Energy Outlook 2017. The full report can be found here.

What is the Annual Energy Outlook?

It is a long-term energy projection of domestic energy markets through 2050. It is "modeled projections of what may happen given certain assumptions and methodologies."

Many uncertainties surround energy projections – here is a link to my previous blog entitled " Is Predicting the Future of Energy Like Driving Down a Dirt Road at Night with No Lights On?" In fact, energy projections are so uncertain and there are so many different unforeseen factors that can have substantial impacts, many tend to have trouble putting much weight on them at all. Economic conditions, technology, global issues, labor issues, political agendas, state and federal policies and who knows what else – it is difficult to even predict the factors that can attribute to the uncertainty in predicting the future of energy. The Annual Energy Outlook even has an entire section dedicated to attempting to identify the various factors that could influence the model and cause uncertainty (see page 31).

The Annual Energy Outlook to me, is all hat and no cowboy...

That's Wyoming-speak for "it's all for show." No meat and potatoes, nothing strong to really sink your teeth into, nothing to really put your arms around, no true reliable substance that isn't subject to a thousand unpredictable cowboy.

But, I will let you decide what you think. Here are the main take-away points of the EIA predicting the future of energy for the United States through 2050 in its Annual Energy Outlook:

  • Although population is expected to rise, overall energy consumption in the United States is predicted to remain relatively flat and is projected to rise 5% from the 2016 level by 2040. Many might ask if this is related to new efficiencies or actual differences in consumption.
  • Natural gas use is projected to increase more than any other fuel source (to account for nearly 40% of U.S. energy production by 2040) and is predicted to cause a decrease in market share for coal consumption. This has been the prediction for as long as we can remember...
  • Energy-related carbon dioxide emissions are predicted to fall at a slower rate than in the past. Many would disagree with this and would argue that the train will stay on the track – that the current rate will at least stay the same, not slow, as there have been modifications to infrastructure and technological advancements continue.
  • That United States crude oil and natural gas production depends on oil prices, resource availability and technological improvements. Many would argue that this is old news, that it does not seem like much of a new concept.

A few predictions do seem to hold at least some water, such as:

  • Renewable energy is predicted to grow the fastest on a percentage basis.
  • The United States will become a net energy exporter. The Annual Energy Outlook predicts that this will occur by 2026.

Is this outlook all hat and no cowboy? I leave it to your opinion to decide how much substance is actually there...

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