The Department of Energy released it Annual Energy Outlook today for 2013, with updated estimates of U.S. energy consumption by fuel source out to the year 2040 in Table A1 of the report (data here) . Based on the government forecast, the fossil fuel (coal, natural gas and oil) share of U.S. energy consumption will fall only slightly in the future, from 84.3% of total U.S. energy demand in 2010 to 80.1% in 2040 (see chart above). On the other hand, the future of renewable energy as a fuel source is not looking so bright, in terms of its contribution to America’s future energy demand. In 2010, renewables (wood, municipal waste, biomass, hydroelectricity, geothermal, solar, and wind for generation in the electric power sector; and ethanol for gasoline blending and biomass-based diesel in the transportation sector), contributed only 6.8% of U.S. energy consumption. Even by 2035, almost 30 years from now, all renewable energies together are expected to contribute less than 11% of the total energy demand in the U.S.
Bottom Line: The scientific and economic realities (and even the government’s own forecasts support this) are that affordable, abundant, and reliable hydrocarbons will continue to be the major source of energy that will fuel America’s economy well into the future. Despite the Obama administration’s embrace of alternative energies like solar and wind power as the “energies of the future,” and the President’s dismissal of oil as a “fuel of the past,” it should be clear from today’s Department of Energy forecast that hydrocarbon energy is America’s future, and renewables will continue to make a relatively minor contribution to U.S. energy demand. It’s the rich oceans of energy treasures beneath the ground (fossil fuels) that will continue to power the U.S. economy for generations to come, and not the taxpayer-dependent sources of energy that come from above the ground (like wind and solar).