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EIA: Shale Surge Will Offset Conventional Declines

May 2, 2011
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According to Energy Information Administration (EIA) projections, total domestic natural gas production will grow from 20.6 Tcf in 2008 to 23.3 Tcf in 2035. With technology improvements and rising prices, production from shale plays grows to 6 Tcf in 2035, more than offsetting declines in conventional production, the agency said in the "Annual Energy Outlook 2010" (AEO2010) reference case, which was released last week.

Much of the additional gas will be burned in power plants. Natural gas-fired power plants and renewables will account for the majority of power generation capacity additions through 2035, EIA said.

However, the share of natural gas in the power generation sector will fall slightly in the nearer term due to the completion of coal-fired plants under construction and the addition of renewable capacity. However, by 2035 the share of generation from gas increases, reaching 21%. Renewable generation shows the strongest growth between now and 2035, spurred by incentive programs in more than half the states, according to EIA. The renewable share of generation grows from 9% in 2008 to 17% in 2035.

Total electricity consumption, including both purchases from electric power producers and on-site generation, grows by 1% per year over the projection period, from 3,873 billion kWh in 2008 to 5,021 billion kWh in 2035.

Total primary energy consumption grows by 14% between 2008 and 2035, as the fossil fuel share of total U.S. energy consumption falls from 84% to 78%.

"Our projections show that existing policies that stress energy efficiency and alternative fuels, together with higher energy prices, curb energy consumption growth and shift the energy mix toward renewable fuels," said EIA Administrator Richard Newell. "However, assuming no new policies, fossil fuels would still provide about 78% of all the energy used in 2035."

Energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions grow at 0.3% per year, assuming no new policies to reduce energy-related CO2 emissions. Total energy-related CO2 emissions grow from 5,814 million metric tons in 2008 to 6,320 million metric tons in 2035, although per capita emissions fall by 0.6% per year. Most of the CO2 growth in the reference case is accounted for by the electric power and transportation sectors.

The reference case projections do not include the effects of potential future policies and only include technologies that are commercially available or can reasonably be expected to become commercially available over roughly the next decade.

The full AEO2010 report, which will include projections with differing assumptions for the price of oil, the rate of economic growth and the characteristics of new technologies, is to be released early next year, EIA said. It will also include regional projections.

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