Renewable energy use will grow at a much faster rate than fossil energy use through 2040, according to projections in the Annual Energy Outlook 2013 Reference case, part of a preliminary report released on December 5 by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). The Reference case focuses on the factors that shape U.S. energy markets, and projects that the use of renewable energy in the United States as a percentage of total energy use will grow from 13% in 2011 to 16% in 2040. Electricity generation from solar and wind energy will expand because recent cost declines make them more economical.
The EIA report also projects increased sales of hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles, which grow to about 1.3 million vehicles in 2035—about 20% higher than last year's Reference case. The 2013 report also noted that continued fuel economy improvement in vehicles using other alternative fuels, gasoline, and diesel, combined with growth in the use of hybrid technologies (including micro, mild, full, and plug-in hybrid vehicles), limit the use of electric vehicles over the projection.
As a result of improved energy efficiency and a shift away from the most carbon-intensive fuels, U.S. energy-related carbon dioxide emissions could remain more than 5% below their 2005 level through 2040. In particular, emissions from gasoline are expected to be lower in the 2013 Reference case than in the 2012 report as a result of the adoption of fuel economy standards, biofuel mandates, and shifts in consumer behavior. See the EIA press release and the EIA report overview PDF.