Energy consumption in the U.S., which has slowed recently, is projected to inch up by only 0.3% per year through 2040, which would be less than half the projected population growth rate over that period.
In its Annual Energy Outlook 2015, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) elaborates that industrial energy consumption over the next 25 years will be slightly higher, at 0.7% per year, while annual commercial consumption is expected to be 0.5%.
EIA attributes these consumption reductions to the adoption of energy efficient technologies, as well as “larger structural changes in the economy.” For example, residential consumption has slowed as more people have moved to warmer climates. And policies that have mandated better fuel efficiencies in cars and trucks appear to be having a positive effect.
“These standards, combined with less travel in response to technological and social factors, have reduced transportation energy consumption in recent years and are expected to continue holding transportation consumption nearly flat in the coming decades,” EIA observes.
The department points to several factors that are expected to shape U.S. energy markets in the next generation. These include:
- Growth in U.S. energy production, coupled with only modest increases in domestic demand, will further reduce the country’s reliance on imported energy suppliers. EIA anticipates that energy imports and exports “come into balance” in the U.S. starting in 2028.
- The U.S. will transition from being a modest net importer of natural gas to a net exporter by 2017, with net exports in 2040 ranging from 3 trillion cubic feet (in a low-oil-price scenario) to 13.1 million (in a high oil and gas resource scenario).
- Rising costs for electric power generation, transmission, and distribution, along with slower growth in electricity demand, are expected to lead to an 18% increase in the average retail price of electricity between 2013 and 2040.
- End-user efficiencies are expected to keep energy related carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S. below 2005 levels through 2040.
EIA expects net energy exports to contribute more to the country’s GDP growth than it has in the previous 30 years, partly because of reduced imports. But that impact is also expected to diminish in the later years of this projection cycle, as GDP growth in nations that are U.S. trade partners slows.