Thursday, December 27, 2007

EIA Outlook - continuing frustration

I quickly linked to this article a few days ago, but I wanted to return to it as it points out a continuing source of frustration.

Two weeks ago, I wrote:

The unfortunate thing about the Energy Information Administration's (EIA) Annual Energy Outlooks is that reporters tend not to understand (or at least write about) the assumptions underlying these forecasts. Most articles I've seen on this topic over the past few years tend to highlight the very low levels of growth forecast in future renewable generation capacity. As the EIA is touted as "Official Energy Statistics from the US Government" I've always been troubled by this.
Just to offer one more example, this US News & World Report article makes the same mistake (ruining what is otherwise a solid piece).
[in discussing the potential of renewable energy supplanting fossil fuel-derived energy] This grand goal is not remotely in sight, even with wind and solar energy and ethanol growing at a breakneck clip. These renewables now provide just 3.6 percent of the nation's energy, and the government predicts their share will grow to a grand total of 4.2 percent by 2030. By those calculations, it sure looks like a fossil fuel future for America.
As a result, the meme continues: a fossil-fuel-based energy future is inevitable, and renewables will amount to nothing more than a drop in the bucket. Some restated version of the EIA assumptions wouldn't be that difficult to include, would it? From the EIA Outlook:
As in previous editions of the Annual Energy Outlook (AEO), the reference case assumes that current policies affecting the energy sector remain unchanged throughout the projection period. Some possible policy changes—notably, the adoption of policies to limit or reduce greenhouse gas emissions—could change the reference case projections significantly.

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