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Extending current energy policies would reduce U.S. energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions

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Extending current energy and efficiency laws past their sunset dates could reduce U.S. carbon emissions by an additional 5 billion metric tons by 2040. An analysis in the EIA’s Annual Energy Outlook 2013 compares energy and carbon savings between existing policies, which have provisions that will expire, and an Extended Policies scenario where the laws are carried out indefinitely.

Total energy consumption is projected to follow a similar pattern. By 2040, cumulative energy savings are projected to reach 55 quadrillion BTUs (1 quad = a thousand trillion British Thermal Units), or over half the energy consumption for any given year in the United States.

The Extended Policies scenario makes the following assumptions:

  • Continuation of production tax credits for wind, biomass, geothermal, and other renewable resources will be extended past their specified sunset dates.
  • Federal equipment efficiency standards will be updated at periodic intervals, consistent with ENERGY STAR® specifications
  • Federal energy codes for residential and commercial buildings will be updated beyond the 2006 International Energy Conservation Code and ASHRAE 90.1-2004 codes
  • CAFE standards for light-duty vehicles will increase by 1.4 percent above 2025 standards
  • Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for Combined Heat and Power (CHP) is expected to cover systems of all sizes (instead of being limited to systems under 50 MW), while the ITC cap will be raised from 25 MW, up from 15 MW

More information can be found in the Annual Energy Outlook 2013 (link).

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Annual Energy Outlook 2013.

David Wogan About the Author: An engineer and policy researcher who writes about energy, technology, and policy - and everything in between. Based in Austin, Texas. Comments? Follow on Twitter @davidwogan.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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  1. 1. jerryd 3:33 pm 04/30/2013

    First based on their very poor record never believe anything EIA or IEA says more than 2 yrs in the future and even that isn’t wise.

    First the trend of energy usage is down, not rising in the US.

    And it’s cost that is driving it as more eff, less power just plain costs less.

    And now AS PV and other tech for making power/energy in homes, buildings means the grid is going to be a lot smaller in 2040, not bigger.

    Same with cars as it’s rather easy to get 300-1000mpge with cool lightweight EV’s that powered by PV are only 25% of the running cost of a similar gas version.

    Link to this
  2. 2. sault 11:07 am 05/1/2013


    It’s still a good idea to continue these policies. CO2 emissions will definitely be higher without them.

    Link to this
  3. 3. Sisko 9:52 am 05/3/2013

    The benefit of being at 450 ppm vs. 452 ppm in 2050 is what?

    Link to this

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