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EIA report explores long-term impact of COVID-19 on US energy mix

Published by , Senior Editor
World Pipelines,

The United States will likely take years to return to 2019 levels of energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions following the impact of COVID-19 on the US economy and global energy sector, according to projections in the US Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) Annual Energy Outlook 2021 (AEO2021).

“It will take a while for the energy sector to get to its new ‘normal,’” said EIA Acting Administrator Stephen Nalley.“ The pandemic triggered a historic energy demand shock that led to lower greenhouse gas emissions, decreases in energy production, and sometimes volatile commodity prices in 2020. The pace of economic recovery, advances in technology, changes in trade flows, and energy incentives will determine how the United States produces and consumes energy in the future.”

Returning to 2019 levels of US energy consumption takes years; energy-related carbon dioxide emissions fall further before levelling off or rising

EIA projects that total US energy consumption will return to 2019 levels by 2029, though that is highly dependent on the pace of US economic recovery. In a case that assumes low economic growth, energy consumption may not return to 2019 levels until 2050. In most cases, EIA projects that US energy-related CO2 emissions will decrease through 2035 before reversing that trend.

Renewable energy incentives and falling technology costs support robust competition with natural gas as coal and nuclear power decrease in the electricity mix

EIA projects that electricity demand will largely return to 2019 levels by 2025. Renewable electric generating technologies are projected to account for almost 60% of the capacity additions from 2020 to 2050, and EIA projects that renewables’ share of the electricity generation mix will more than double by 2050. The natural gas share will remain relatively flat at 36%, and the coal and nuclear shares will fall by about half, according to baseline projections in AEO2021.

Continuing record domestic energy production supports natural gas exports but does not necessarily mean growth in the US trade balance in petroleum products

EIA projects that the United States will continue to export more petroleum and other liquids than it imports, but the balance of imports to exports will be highly sensitive to supply, demand, and price factors. High oil and natural gas supply or high oil prices could result in increased domestic production and net exports. If prices or supply remain high, the United States is likely to export more energy than it imports through 2050.


Read the latest issue of World Pipelines magazine, which includes a regional report on the USA.

World Pipelines’ January 2021 issue

The January 2021 issue kicks off the year with a regional report focusing on pipelines in the USA, in which Gordon Cope analyses the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the US oil and gas sector. The issue also includes articles on decarbonisation, inline inspection, corrosion prevention and offshore welding. Don’t miss the Pigging Q&A on p.31!

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