According to the Department of Energy, the future of fossil fuel energy in America is still very bright. Energy sources like oil, gas and coal will continue to provide, by far, most of the nation’s power.
“Renewable” or “green” energy? Not so much. From Mark Perry:
Based on the government forecast, the fossil fuel (coal, natural gas and oil) share of U.S. energy consumption will fall only slightly in the future, from 84.3% of total U.S. energy demand in 2010 to 80.1% in 2040 (see chart above). On the other hand, the future of renewable energy as a fuel source is not looking so bright, in terms of its contribution to America’s future energy demand. In 2010, renewables (wood, municipal waste, biomass, hydroelectricity, geothermal, solar, and wind for generation in the electric power sector; and ethanol for gasoline blending and biomass-based diesel in the transportation sector), contributed only 6.8% of U.S. energy consumption. Even by 2035, almost 30 years from now, all renewable energies together are expected to contribute less than 11% of the total energy demand in the U.S.
The problem with long-view projections like this is that we don’t know what technological innovations might take place between now and then. The “peak oil” people made that same mistake when they assumed that our demand for oil would one day outstrip production. What they didn’t take into account was technological innovations that improved production, and allowed us to reach previously untouchable oil and gas resources.
The same could happen in the green energy industry. Maybe some brilliant engineer or scientist will find a way to make wind energy cheaper and more reliable. Maybe someone will find something ethanol is good for (besides a convenient vehicle for funneling lots and lots of tax dollars into the agriculture industry). It could happen, and if it did I would welcome those innovations. My objection to green energy and the mountains of subsidies and preferential treatment it receives from the government isn’t that I have a problem with wind, solar, etc. It’s that, as things sit now, they don’t work very well.
Maybe one day they will. But for now, what’s wrong with recognizing that fossil fuels do work very, very well?