How Close Is United States To Energy Independence

February 18, 2012 by staff 

How Close Is United States To Energy Independence, A new report suggests that the U.S., along with the rest of North America , could achieve energy independence and become a net exporter of fuel in the next two decades.

BP’s ( BP ) Energy Outloook 2030 looks at gross domestic product, population and energy usage growth, suggesting a consistent rise in global population alongside a rapidly declining cost of energy per GDP around the globe. The British petroleum firm suggested that natural gas and renewable fuels will grow much faster than oil and coal. As a corollary to the rising popularity of gas, BP projects that shale gas, coal bed methane and shale oil will surge in production across North America, offering a domestic source of power and fuel with lower emissions than petroleum or coal.

The 88 page report contains a wealth of data and predictions drawn from the corporation ‘s internal Statistical Review of World Energy, the International Energy Agency, historical statistics and the United Nations, among others. A critical finding shared by BP, the IEA, OPEC and other bodies is the prediction that most growth in energy consumption will occur outside the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a body which comprises 34 states that more or less make up the wealthier nations of Europe and the Americas.

Similarly, annual non-OECD emissions are predicted to grow from about 30 to 40 billion tons of carbon dioxide from 2010 to 2030, while OECD emissions flatline at around 10 billion tons. BP forecasts economic and energy intensity growth in China and India to follow historical patterns of industrialization, with GDP per capita rising and energy intensity falling after a sharp peak.

Mostly, this sounds like good news. However, complicating factors remain. For one thing, the demand for and burning of dirty coal will surge in emerging markets, particularly China. In 2010, the world’s second-largest economy used over 3 billion tons of oil equivalent in coal; by 2030, that will rise to 4.5 billion, most of it going to provide power for the nation’s grid. Dirty fuels will remain in high demand in the factories and workshops of the developing world, while America and the richer countries of Europe rely on relatively cleaner fuels.

There’s also the seesaw of growth and pollution to consider. As long as growth in poorer nations is fueled by dirty materials like coal, those governments need to make a Sophie’s Choice between raising emissions and fouling the air, and leaving much of their population in poverty. The environmental tension between China and the US partly comes from the fact that the US has more or less got its pollution growth under control (though it’s still massively wasteful), while China continues to pollute more and more; at the same time, this is a relatively recent development and the US and other economic powers have a long history of pollution and rapid economic growth that allowed their populations to become much richer and more comfortable than China’s.

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