Green Energy Future
President Obama today is scheduled to make a major climate change policy speech at Georgetown University.
In it he will outline ways to reduce CO2 emissions to fight global warming. He will propose new initiatives, including green energy projects on federal lands, that Congress will be asked to subsidize through funding or tax breaks.
He will also announce new EPA restrictions on existing coal-fired power plants that will make them so prohibitively expensive to operate that most of them will probably be shut down.
The speech will be filled with platitudes and star-gazer language. Wind, solar, biofuels and energy sources not yet invented will be highlighted.
This Energy Information Administration chart puts a reality check to the President’s speech.
The original purpose of this graph is to compare 2012 with 2013 projections for total U.S. energy production by energy sector for the years 2025, 2035 and 2040.
For this purpose ignore the comparison and look at the bottom line current 2040 forecasts.
The amount of energy is expressed as quadrillions of British Thermal Units (Qbtu). That is one big honking number!
Actual production figures from 2010 and 2011 are provided for comparison purposes.
What will U.S. Energy Production look like in 2040?
2040 is 27 years away. It is 23 years after President Obama is long gone and after six other new presidential administrations have served.
According to the EIA, energy production will increase from 75 Qbtu in 2010 to 98 Qbtu in 2040, a thirty year time span.
The overall energy production balance looks about the same in 2040 as it does today. Fossil remains king. It’ll supply over 74% of all energy used in the USA.
By far, the biggest forecast change is to dry natural gas. It will expand from about 22 Qbtu in 2010 to 34 Qbtu in 2040.
Petroleum production is predicted to increase about 16%. Coal, nuclear, hydro and ‘other’ production remains unchanged.
Everything else changes a little but remain as bit players in the overall energy production picture through 2040.
More recent EIA findings of new petroleum and natural gas resources are sure to increase their shares of the energy production pie.
What about Green Energy?
The overall percentage of energy produced today (about 10%) by green energy is only slightly less than it will supply in 2040. That according to the EIA.
Green energy is a bit player in the overall energy production picture and will remain so through 2040.
Increases in dry natural gas production alone between 2010 and 2040 is more than the total energy supplied by green energy in 2040!!
By definition, green energy is in the “Other renewable energy” and “Biomass” categories listed above. That is what President Obama will be talking about.
Biomass is, by far, the largest supplier of green energy in the United States. That is because of 2005/2007 laws that mandate the amount of ethanol that gasoline producers must blend into every gallon of gas sold in this country.
Most ethanol comes from corn. About 45% of U.S. corn production is devoted to making ethanol. That percentage will rise as the ethanol standard increases.
The next largest green energy source is wind power. It is most of the “other renewable energy” category.
A not very believable increase of 33% in overall “other renewable energy” between 2035 and 2040 sounds unreasonable, but maybe the EIA knows something that we don’t.
Solar is such an infinitesimally tiny fraction of overall U.S. energy production (and prohibitively expensive) that it really doesn’t deserve mention.
Green energy is a bit player in the overall energy production picture in the United States. It will remains so at least through 2040, according to the EIA.
Large scale conversion of coal-fired electric plants to natural gas electric plants is already reducing U.S. CO2 emissions far, far more than all the green energy programs ever funded by federal and state governments combined. And that hasn’t cost taxpayers a single penny.
Increased natural gas production and use as a replacement energy source will continue to reduce CO2 for decades to come.
President Obama’s initiatives never have and never will reduce CO2 in any significant way, no matter how good it sounds in a campaign-style speech.