BOX 2.1

Reference Scenarios

The statement of task for this study (Box 1.1) called for the development of a reference scenario “that reflects a projection of current economic, technology cost and performance, and policy parameters into the future.” The AEF Committee decided to meet this requirement by adopting the Energy Information Administration’s (EIA’s) reference case for U.S. energy supply and consumption, which is the most commonly cited scenario for the U.S. energy system. It provides estimates of past, current, and future energy supply and consumption parameters by assuming that current energy policies remain unchanged and then extrapolating economic growth rates and technology-development trends into the future. In other words, the EIA reference case represents a business-as-usual and policy-neutral projection.

The EIA updates this reference case annually and presents it in the agency’s Annual Energy Outlook reports. In this study, the committee uses the 2008 update (EIA, 2008), which reflects U.S. energy supply and consumption through 2007 and future projections through 2030, as its primary reference scenario. However, in limited cases the 2009 update (EIA, 2009a) was used, and explicitly noted in this report, when it was considered to be more indicative of current conditions.

The EIA’s Annual Energy Outlook reports can be accessed at www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/aeo/. Selected energy supply and consumption estimates from the 2008 update are shown in the three tables that follow.

TABLE 2.1.1 Reference Scenario Estimates of Electricity Consumption and Supply

 

2007

2020

2030

Electricity Consumption (terawatt-hours)

Residential

1400

1500

1700

Commercial

1300

1700

1900

Industry

1000

1100

1000

Transportation

6

8

9

Electricity Supply (terawatt-hours)

Coal

2000

2300

2800

Petroleum

48

52

56

Natural gas

680

610

500

Nuclear power

800

870

920

Renewables

 

 

 

Conventional hydropower

260

300

300

Onshore wind

38

100

120

Offshore wind

0

0

0

Solar photovoltaic

0.08

0.52

1.0

Concentrating solar power

0.92

2.0

2.2

Geothermal

16

24

31

Biopower

12

78

83

Note: Estimates have been rounded.

Source: EIA, 2008.



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