Is it the calm after the crude oil storm, or the eye of the petroleum market hurricane? Whatever it is, the great recession of 2008 has put the brakes on U.S. oil use.
And if America learns from the $140 a barrel crude oil experience, it bodes well for our future. That's the bottom line of the 2009 energy outlook released this week by the U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Information Administration.
The EIA projects flat oil consumption to year 2030, slower growth in energy use and carbon dioxide emissions. It's also predicting reduced import dependence.
For the first time in more than 20 years, virtually no growth is anticipated in U.S. oil consumption due to higher mileage standards set for vehicles, required increased use of renewable fuels, and an assumed rebound in oil prices as the world economy recovers. Here are a few key points from the report:
Overall, liquid fuel demand is projected to grow by only 1 million barrels per day between 2007 and 2030. But domestically-produced biofuels and rising domestic oil production will cut net imports, including biofuels, from 58% in 2007 to less than 40% in 2025, before increasing to 41% in 2030.
A virtual explosion in domestic-origin natural gas will drop the net import share of natural gas from 16% in 2007 to less than 3% by 2030.
World crude oil prices may average near $60 a barrel in 2009, assuming the global economy rebounds. Global demand will once again grow more rapidly than non-OPEC liquids supply. By 2030, the average crude oil price is expected to be $130 a barrel (in 2007 dollars; $189 in nominal dollars).
Total renewable energy use, including wood, municipal waste, biomass, hydroelectricity, geothermal, solar, wind for electric power generation, ethanol for gasoline blending, and biomass-based diesel, will grow 3.3% per year. That'll be powered by strong growth in use of renewables for electricity generation in many states.
A sharp increase in the sale of next-generation vehicle technologies, flex-fuel, hybrid and diesel plus a significant decline in light-duty truck sales are projected. Hybrid sales of new light-duty vehicles will reach vehicle will rise from 2% in 2007 to 38% by 2030.
Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles will grow to 90,000 vehicles annually by 2014. By 2030, PHEVs will account for 2% of light vehicle sales.
Domestic coal, oil and natural gas meet 79% of total U.S. primary energy supply requirements in 2030, down from 85% in 2007.
Onshore production of unconventional natural gas, including shale gas, will rise from 9.2 trillion cubic feet in 2007 to 13.2 trillion cubic feet in 2030.
Ethanol use for gasoline blending will grow to 12.2 billion gallons, while E85 consumption will rise to 17.3 billion gallons in 2030. Ethanol from cellulosic feedstocks will reach 12.6 billion gallons (including both domestic and imported production) in 2030. Biodiesel and biomass-to-liquid diesel fuel use both will rise significantly, reaching nearly 2 billion gallons and 5 billion gallons, respectively, in 2030.
Total electricity consumption, including purchases from electric power producers and on-site generation (agriculture included), will grow from 3,903 billion kilowatthours in 2007 to 4,902 billion kilowatthours in 2030.