Tuesday, August 04, 2009

EPRI Predicts the Energy Future

fortune-teller-thumb2542440 The Electric Power Research Institute, or EPRI, has updated a report that predicts what the energy mix will be in 2030 given the parameters set for carbon reduction by the energy bill passed by the House. Now, EPRI covers almost all electricity generators and favors none in particular, but its studies still answer to the interests of the electricity business. Since the goal here is to predict the optimum mix of energy sources needed to achieve a specific goal, you could easily decide to amp down some of EPRI’s proscriptions (say, less nuclear) and amp up others (say, more renwables). There is a game-like aspect to this. All that said, here’s the bottom line:

The U.S. needs to build 45 nuclear reactors and reduce power consumption by 8 percent by 2030 to meet greenhouse-gas emission reductions called for by Congress, a report funded by the electric industry says.

The Electric Power Research Institute, whose members produce and deliver more than 90 percent of U.S. power, issued the report today. It also calls building 100 million plug-in electric vehicles and retrofitting about 18 percent of U.S. coal-power plants to capture emissions.

So the nuclear element isn’t Lamar Alexander-like but neither is it unrealistic – and it also takes into account, also realistically, that anti-nuclear, anti-coal interests cannot fully eliminate them from the mix. However, Bloomberg’s Tina Seeley notes that these forecasts do not mirror those currently offered at DOE – at all:

[DOE’s] Energy Information Administration predicts 12,500 megawatts of new nuclear power by 2030. The EPRI report says 64,000 megawatts will be built.

The report also predicts 135,000 megawatts of new renewable electricity sources by 2030, accounting for 15 percent of U.S. generation. That is more than twice the government’s estimate of 60,000 megawatts in the same time period.

EPRI starts with EIA’s numbers, which are as definitive as any set could be. But of course, EIA’s numbers represents the government’s forecast now. These are always based on what’s known now – and that changes a lot over time, plus government doesn’t control most of the elements in play here. Neither does EPRI, but EPRI is several degrees of separation closer to the industry.

We’re not arguing for EPRI and against EIA, just making a distinction. And it’s likely EIA’s numbers that will receive most attention from Congress as the energy bills move closer to completion. But, at the very least, EPRI does show a talent for going in for the kill:

“The analysis confirms that while the cost of implementing major CO2 emissions reductions is significant, development and deployment of a full portfolio of technologies will reduce the cost to the U.S. economy by more than $1 trillion,” according to a summary of the report.

Well, okay, then.

Madame Olga wants a word with you – invites you into her tent – and looks into the crystal ball - but then a shadow crosses her face – and she tells you to leave – leave immediately – she follows you out - and scans the night sky for meteors.


Brian Mays said...

I'm a bit confused: EEI = Energy Information Administration?

David Bradish said...

EIA is what he meant.

Anonymous said...

You're comparing apples and oranges here. DOE's EIA uses models to forecast nuclear and other capacity additions, based on various scenarios. EPRI's Prism report gives ASSUMPTIONS, not PREDICTIONS, about the amount of nuclear that would be needed to meet the specified CO2 reduction goals. It's an important distinction.

Ioannes said...

The optimism here assumes the US will have enough money left when handout programs like cash for clunkers finally go broke and can't be re-financed. Another 2 billion for that fiasco, but we can't build a new nuke!