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GAO — Electricity: Generation Mix Has Shifted, and Growth in Consumption Has Slowed, Affecting System Operations and Prices

June 30, 2015 Comments off

Electricity: Generation Mix Has Shifted, and Growth in Consumption Has Slowed, Affecting System Operations and Prices
Source: U.S. Government Accountability Office

The mix of energy sources for electricity generation has changed, and the growth in electricity consumption has slowed. As shown in the figure below, from 2001 through 2013, natural gas, wind, and solar became larger portions of the nation’s electricity generation, and the share of coal has declined. These changes have varied by region. For example, the majority of wind and solar electricity generation is concentrated in a few states—in 2013, California and Arizona accounted for over half of electricity generated at solar power plants. Regarding consumption, national retail sales of electricity grew by over 1 percent per year from 2001 through 2007 and remained largely flat from that time through 2014.
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CBO — China’s Growing Energy Demand: Implications for the United States: Working Paper 2015-05

June 29, 2015 Comments off

China’s Growing Energy Demand: Implications for the United States: Working Paper 2015-05
Source: Congressional Budget Office

Growing rapidly in recent decades, China’s demand for energy has nearly doubled since 2005—making China the world’s largest consumer of energy. That growth and the energy policies that China pursues increase the level and possibly the volatility of some energy prices, reduce the competitiveness of U.S. manufacturing firms in relation to Chinese firms but provide benefits for U.S. consumers, and increase greenhouse gas emissions. This paper examines trends in China’s energy consumption, the implications of those trends for U.S. households and businesses, and policy options that might help minimize adverse effects.

CRS — U.S. Crude Oil and Natural Gas Production in Federal and Non-Federal Areas (April 3, 2015)

June 29, 2015 Comments off

U.S. Crude Oil and Natural Gas Production in Federal and Non-Federal Areas (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

A number of proposals designed to increase domestic energy supply, enhance security, and/or amend the requirements of environmental statutes that apply to energy development were before the 113th Congress and are likely to be reintroduced in the 114th Congress. A key question in this discussion is how much oil and gas is produced in the United States each year and how much of that comes from federal versus non-federal areas. Oil production has fluctuated on federal lands over the past five fiscal years but has increased dramatically on non-federal lands. Non-federal crude oil production has been rapidly increasing in the past few years, partly due to favorable geology and the ease of leasing, rising by 3.0 million barrels per day (mbd) between FY2010 and FY2014, causing the federal share of total U.S. crude oil production to fall from 36.4% to 21.4%.

Crude oil production on federal lands, particularly offshore, however, is likely to continue to make a significant contribution to the U.S energy supply picture and could remain consistently higher than previous decades, but still fall as a percent of total U.S. production, if production on non-federal lands continues to rise at a faster rate.

CRS — Ballistic Missile Defense in the Asia-Pacific Region: Cooperation and Opposition (April 3, 2015)

June 29, 2015 Comments off

Ballistic Missile Defense in the Asia-Pacific Region: Cooperation and Opposition (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The growing number and modernization of ballistic missiles in the Asia-Pacific region poses a security challenge for the United States and its allies and is thus a concern for many in Congress. The United States has made ballistic missile defense (BMD) a central component of protection for forward-deployed U.S. forces and extended deterrence for allied security. The configuration of sensors, command-and-control centers, and BMD assets in the region has slowly evolved with contributions from treaty allies, primarily Japan, Australia, and South Korea.

Observers believe that North Korea has an arsenal of hundreds of short-range ballistic missiles and likely dozens of medium-range Nodong missiles; the extended-range Nodongs are considered capable of reaching Japan and U.S. bases there. Longer-range North Korean missiles appear to be under development but remain unreliable, with only one successful test out of five in the past 15 years. The U.S. intelligence community has not yet concluded that North Korea can build nuclear warheads small enough to put on ballistic missiles, but there is significant debate among experts on this question.

Country Analysis Brief: Iran

June 26, 2015 Comments off

Country Analysis Brief: Iran
Source: Energy Information Administration

Iran holds some of the world’s largest deposits of proved oil and natural gas reserves, ranking as the world’s fourth-largest and second-largest reserve holder of oil and natural gas, respectively. Iran also ranks among the world’s top 10 oil producers and top 5 natural gas producers. Iran produced almost 3.4 million barrels per day (b/d) of petroleum and other liquids in 2014 and an estimated 5.7 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of dry natural gas in 2013.

The Strait of Hormuz, off the southeastern coast of Iran, is an important route for oil exports from Iran and other Persian Gulf countries. At its narrowest point, the Strait of Hormuz is 21 miles wide, yet an estimated 17 million b/d of crude oil and refined products flowed through it in 2013 (roughly 30% of all seaborne traded oil and almost 20% of total oil produced globally). Liquefied natural gas (LNG) volumes also flow through the Strait of Hormuz. Approximately 3.7 Tcf of LNG was transported from Qatar via the Strait of Hormuz in 2013, accounting for more than 30% of global LNG trade.

EU — Renewable energy progress report

June 18, 2015 Comments off

Renewable energy progress report
Source: European Commission

The European Commission has published the progress report on 2020 renewable energy targets, showing that the EU is on track to meet its 20% renewable energy targets. With a projected share of 15.3% of renewable energy in 2014 in the gross final energy consumption, the EU and the vast majority of Member States are advancing well: 25 Member States are expected to meet their 2013/2014 national targets.

These results are published in the European Commission’s 2015 report on progress made in achieving the EU’s legally binding target for a 20% share of renewable energy, the 10% target for renewable energy use in transport, and the binding national targets by 2020.

CFR Backgrounder: Hydraulic Fracturing (Fracking)

June 15, 2015 Comments off

CFR Backgrounder: Hydraulic Fracturing (Fracking)
Source: Council on Foreign Relations

Geologists have known about vast reservoirs of natural gas and oil trapped in shale formations across the United States for decades, but until recently cost-effective extraction techniques weren’t available, and the resources remained untapped. Shale didn’t factor into most serious analyses of U.S. energy prospects until the combination of two old technologies—horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, known colloquially as fracking—was perfected. A drilling renaissance over the past five years has transformed the United States into a leading natural gas producer and potential oil and gas exporter, reversing a decades-long trend of increasing reliance on foreign sources of oil and gas.

The results have been dramatic. Shale production helped reduce net imports of energy by one-third between 2011 and 2013, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), and by 2014 foreign petroleum imports had fallen nearly 40 percent compared to 2006. These changes hold broad implications for global markets and international relations.

Meanwhile, global energy prices have fallen, and many other countries are studying the U.S. example and plan to tap their own shale resources. But analysts, environmental groups, and governments are concerned about the costs of fracking and the risks to the environment, while falling oil prices have begun to contract investment in the sector.

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