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


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.

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

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