Multiple factors to reduce carbon emissions through 2050, EIA says

by Jeff Della Rosa ([email protected]) 172 views 

U.S. energy-related carbon-dioxide emissions are projected to fall 25% to 38% below the 2005 level in seven years, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). The decline can be attributed to increased electrification, higher equipment efficiencies and more zero-carbon electricity generation.

The EIA released Thursday (March 16) the Annual Energy Outlook 2023 showing that projections for energy-related carbon emissions in 2050 declined by 17% compared to the projections in its 2022 outlook. Some of the factors that contributed to the change include the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, technology cost updates, energy system performance and macroeconomic outlook changes.

The 2023 outlook shows “a significant shift toward lower future emissions” compared to the annual report last year. Still, emissions reductions are limited by long-term growth in U.S. transportation and industrial sector activity.

“With policy changes over the last year and continued technology innovation, we expect to see significant shifts in energy production and use over the next 30 years,” said EIA Administrator Joe DeCarolis said. “The resulting projections for energy-related CO2 emissions are most sensitive to our assumptions regarding economic growth and the cost of zero-carbon generation technology.”

Following are highlights from the 2023 annual outlook:

  • Renewable generating capacity is expected to grow in all U.S. regions and will be supported by growth in installed battery capacity. U.S. electric power demand is expected to rise through 2050 because of increasing electrification and ongoing economic growth. Renewable energy investments, including in solar and wind, and the operating cost advantage of the sources are expected to increase the share of zero-carbon electricity generation.
  • Technology advancements and electrification are projected to lead to decreases in demand-side energy intensity. The EIA projects an increase in the use of heat pumps, electric vehicles and electric arc furnaces in the iron and steel industry. In the residential and commercial sectors, energy intensity is expected to fall because of higher equipment efficiencies and stricter building codes. In the transportation sector, light-duty vehicle fuel efficiency is expected to improve because of a rise in Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards and electric vehicle sales.
  • The United States is expected to remain a net exporter of petroleum products and natural gas through 2050 as high international demand contributes to continued U.S. production growth combined with little growth in domestic consumption. U.S. production is expected to remain at historically high levels although domestic consumption of petroleum and other liquids won’t change significantly through 2040. Domestic natural gas consumption also will remain stable even as electricity generation shifts toward renewables. Natural gas production is expected to rise in response to international demand for liquefied natural gas.

Along with the 2023 annual outlook, the EIA released a report examining the impacts of the Inflation Reduction Act. If it’s implemented, energy-related CO2 emissions would fall 33% below the 2005 level by 2030. If not, the emissions would decline by 26% below the 2005 level by 2030.