Bailey RichardsStaff Reporter
December 10, 2012
A new set of projections for America’s energy future shows that coal will continue to play an important role in the nation’s energy portfolio.
The United States Census Bureau just released projections of the U.S. energy profile through 2040. These projections are created by numbers from the Energy Information Administration that tracks and monitors the total energy usages in the U.S. They show coal as continuing to be a large part of America’s energy, but also that the United States will depend less on importing energy sources.
These numbers comprise all energy sources, not only those used in power production, but also those used for fuel in cars and homes. In 2011 the U.S. was importing 19 percent of its total energy creating resources, however, projections show that number will drop to only 9 percent, and that energy consumption will rise steadily during this time.
A number of factors have contributed in the fall off of energy consumption across the board, but one of these main reasons has been a push towards energy efficiency. In 2008 the amount of energy produced by the U.S. dropped significantly for the first time since 1993. This drop crossed all energy sources, but hit coal and crude oil the hardest.
Coal was able to table off until 2012 when more losses in the use of coal occurred. While these numbers are alarming for the coal dependent areas going through this current downturn, projections show a slow but steady growth in the production of coal over the next 28 years.
Faster, more significant growth can be seen in the natural gas markets and the renewable energy market over the next 28 years. The only industry that is projected to show a significant decline in that time period is the crude oil industry.
While some energy sources will be producing at a much higher rate in the coming years, energy use is projected only to grow slowly. Coal is projected to remain at virtually the same level of use in the United States from 2011 to 2040.
Liquid biofuels are expected to make steady gains over the next three decades. Liquid biofuels are a renewable resource but are not counted among other resources such as wind and solar power since they are often used for different purposes. In the last few years, they have become used more and more as an alternative to diesel fuel.
One of the largest changes that has occurred in the past several years has been the reduction in the amount of liquid fuel imported into the United States. It has been a long standing goal to break the dependence on foreign oil, and while nearly 37 percent of the oil used in the U.S. in 2040 is projected to be imported, this is 23 percent less than was being imported in 2005. From 2005 to 2011, the U.S. was importing 15 percent less oil.
By 2020 the United States will be able to export natural gas. The domestic supply will outweigh the domestic usage by 5 trillion cubic feet in 2040, making it a possible lucrative export for the United States.