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EIA: Drop in Energy-Related CO2 Emissions Projected Through 2050

Energy-related carbon dioxide emissions are projected to drop between 25 and 38 percent by 2030, according to the Annual Energy Outlook 2023 recently released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

The reduction in CO2 emissions from 2005 levels are being driven by increased electrification, higher equipment efficiency and increasing use of renewable energy sources in the electric sector, as well increased tax credits and subsidies for low-carbon energy projects in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA)

“With policy changes over the last year and continued technology innovation, we expect to see significant shifts in energy production and use over the next 30 years,” said EIA Administrator Joe DeCarolis in a press release.

While the projected emissions reductions are significant they still fall short of the United States’ goals of 50 to 52 percent in the Paris Agreement. Emissions reductions are also limited by long-term growth in U.S. transportation and industrial activity, the EIA noted.

AEO2023 projects stable growth in U.S. electric power demand due to increasing electrification of buildings and industrial processes and ongoing economic growth. “The combination of declining capital costs and government subsidies, including IRA initiatives, driving rising renewable technologies for electricity generation, such as solar and wind,” the executive summary states.

The EIA projects that solar generating capacity will increase by between 325% and 1,019% by 2050, while wind capacity will grow by 138% to 235%, and that both will be accompanied by growth in installed battery storage capacity. During the same period, natural gas generating capacity rill increase between 20% and 87%.

Overall electric capacity from renewable energy sources will increase by about 380 percent by 2050, while fossil fuel generating capacity, which includes coal and natural gas-fired power plants, increases only about 11% as government policies encourage reduced emissions and clean energy sources.

The report also noted that high international demand for energy will lead to continued growth in U.S. production, even as domestic consumption shows only modest growth. The U.S. will remain a net exporter of petroleum production and natural gas through 2050. Growth in natural gas production will be driven by the increasing international demand for liquefied natural gas by European nations.

Accompanying the AEO2023 is a more in-depth paper examining the impact of the IRA incentives, taking into account uncertainty about some policy provisions and challenges in modeling some of its initiatives.

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