How to Help Clean Energy Grow

Higher oil prices, stricter controls on greenhouse gas emissions would spur greater renewable energy production, report says.

| April 1, 2009

Clean energy

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, limiting greenhouse gas emissions and raising oil prices would encourage a stronger shift toward the use of renewbale energy in the United States.


The growth of renewable energy and renewable fuels in the United States will be significantly greater under scenarios involving high oil prices and stricter controls on greenhouse gas emissions, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA).

The EIA released its Annual Energy Outlook yesterday, which includes an examination of alternate scenarios for the future of U.S. energy. One such alternate scenario involves oil prices that reach $200 per barrel by 2030, rather than $130 per barrel under the reference case.

That higher price drives biofuel production up by about 10 percent, reaching 40 billion gallons in 2030. It also cuts the percentage of imported liquid fuels from 41 percent of U.S. fuel demand in 2030 in the reference case to only 30 percent of U.S. fuel demand in the case of high oil prices.

Likewise, limits on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions spur renewable energy production, particularly for electrical power supplies. Although the EIA report examines only one legislative scenario — the legislation proposed by Senators Lieberman and Warner in the 110th Congress — it found a strong shift toward renewable energy, nuclear power, and fossil fuels with carbon capture and storage under that scenario.

In fact, the percentage of the nation’s electricity generated with non-hydroelectric renewable energy sources doubles under the GHG controls, from a 9 percent share in 2030 in the reference scenario to an 18 percent share under the climate legislation. Note that the report doesn't account for legislation signed after November 2008, so it doesn't include the effects of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

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