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EIA’s Forecast for 2030: Gasoline Continues to Dominate

The EIA forecasts growth in transportation energy consumption to hit almost 40 quads by 2030.

The DOE’s Energy Information Administration has released the final version of its Annual Energy Outlook for 2006 (AEO2006), with projections through 2030. The EIA had earlier released a preview version. (Earlier post.)

The EIA factored in ongoing world oil prices higher than those projected in last year’s AEO2005—up to $54.08 per barrel in 2025 (about $21 per barrel higher than the price used in AEO2005) and up to AEO2006 $56.97 per barrel in 2030.

Trends in energy supply and demand are affected by a large number of factors that are difficult to predict, such as energy prices, US economic growth, advances in technologies, changes in weather patterns, and future public policy decisions. In preparing AEO2006, EIA reevaluated its prior expectations about world oil prices in light of the current circumstances in oil markets.


The higher prices do moderate the growth in consumption of petroleum products in the AEO2006 reference case scenario. Yet despite the higher prices, increases in fuel efficiency, greater penetration of hybrid and diesel vehicles, and increased use of biofuels and alternative fuels, overall energy consumption in the entire transportation sector is projected to climb 46% from 2003 to 2030 to 39,729.9 trillion BTU (40 quadrillion BTU, or “quads”).

Within the entire transportation sector, light-duty vehicles represent 57.8% of consumption in 2030; freight trucks 19%; commercial light trucks 2%; and buses 1%.

Energy consumption for cars and light trucks.

Within light-duty vehicles, the fastest growing sector is light trucks (e.g., SUVs and pickups), the energy consumption of which the EIA sees growing at an annual rate of 2.4%—the fastest growth rate of any on-highway transportation sector.

In the EIA scenario, energy consumption by light trucks surpasses that of passenger cars in 2012, and continues to grow steeply. (Chart at right.)

The EIA projects that gasoline will remain the dominant fuel in the light-duty vehicle sector. In 2030, gasoline internal combustion engines will still account for 81.6% of energy consumed by light-duty vehicles. Diesel, ethanol and hybrids will account for 5.1%, 6.9% and 4.8% respectively. Fuel cell technology is projected to supply a tiny 0.02% of LDV transportation energy consumed in 2030.

By contrast, gasoline engines accounted for 97.6% of light-duty vehicle energy consumed in 2003.

Growth in consumption by technology and fuel.

The chart to the right plots the growth in consumption of the top four technology/fuel combinations: gasoline ICE, diesel ICE, E85 ICE and gasoline-electric hybrids. (A log scale is used due to the order of magnitude difference between gasoline ICE and everything else.)

Carbon dioxide. The EIA projects that carbon dioxide emissions from energy use are projected to increase from 5,900 million metric tons in 2004 to 7,587 million metric tons in 2025 and 8,114 million metric tons in 2030 in the reference case—an average annual increase of 1.2% per year from 2003.

Carbon dioxide emissions by sector and fuel, 2004 and 2030 (million metric tons).

That would represent a 62% increase in carbon dioxide emissions over the 5,002 million metric tons emitted in 1990, the baseline for emissions reductions under the Kyoto Protocol.

Despite that quantitative increase, the relative CO2 intensity of the economy will decrease 1.8% per year to 351 metric tons per million dollars of GDP by 2030. In comparison, the AEO2005 reference case projected a 1.5% average annual decline in emissions intensity between 2004 and 2025. Projected CO2 emissions are lower in all sectors in the AEO2006 reference case than they were in AEO2005, as higher energy prices slow energy consumption growth in all sectors.

(One of the alternate scenarios described by the EIA factors in a focus on technologies for CO2 reduction, with a concomitant drop of 9% in CO2 emissions in 2030—i.e., to 7,383 million metric tons.)

In its reference case, the EIA projects that the transportation sector will contribute 33.7% of total CO2 emissions in 2030, up slightly from 32.6% in 2003.




No mention of the D-word...'Depletion'.
Or perhaps...'Delusion'.


Actually, in the separate "Administrator's Presentation" (here), "Peak Oil" appears. Slide #3.

EIA has reassessed its long-term oil price projection...not due to "peak oil" considerations, although we are following this issue closely.


I should point out the obvious that DOE is part of this administration. They are projecting disaster based on policies, or the lack thereof, of this administration.

This is just totally weird, projecting oil prices lower in 2025 than now.


Well, fifty-some a barrel is high in a historic sense. Trying to be generous and think through what might make that work ... would a very long time at $50+ oil ($2+ gas?) lead to a shift in behavior?

No, I'm afraid it is hard to picture. $2 gas is cheap in the US sense, cheap enough to fuel higher consumption and (again) higher prices.


Where are we gonna get all of this oil from? What about growing global demand? Are they assuming that a lot of this gasoline will be made from coal, oil shale and tar sands? It seems like, by then, EV technologies will make such vehicles extremely competitive with the ICE if not overwhelming so.

Harvey D

Just unbelievable and rather irresponsible. They are sending the wrong message and encouraging consumption instead of energy conservation. EIA is actually forcasting 'Business as usual' in the transport sector for the next 25 years with 45% to 50% more petroleum consumption. Where will all this OIL come from? As for the $50/$54 a barrel in 2030, the same people were forcasting $24/$28 a barrel for 2005..... or about 1/3 of the real peak price. Assuming the same margin of error, the 2030 price could be between $140 to $160 a barrel. Can you imaging the impact on the USA trade deficit. Let's hope that the American vehicle buyers will take another approach and replace their gas guzzlers with more efficient PHEVs in the next 10 to 15 years.


Plugin hybrids are coming. The paradigm shift will occur when it becomes profitable for some company to take a chance on shifting the paradigm. My gut feel is the time is now, or within the next year or two at most.

The economic benefits to the first-mover can be very great. I'd like to think Ford could be the company that takes that risk.


"Plugin hybrids are coming." to be preceded by Flying Pigs no doubt.

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