Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Electricity over the next 20 years - Four scenarios

The project began by identifying a key "focus" question about the future that the scenarios would address: How will demand for U.S. energy services and the potential externalities that may result shape electricity technologies over the next 20 years?The four scenarios presented in this report are built upon two key uncertain drivers of change: the evolution of primary fuel markets, in particular natural gas that fuels the power sector, and changes in societal values on energy industry externalities, particularly carbon dioxide (CO2):

  • Digging in Our Heels. A world in which we actively resist change. Society embarks on a "momentum strategy". Natural gas and other primary fuel prices are rising, driven by growth in demand and supply constraints, and direct or imputed cost of CO2 emissions is very low. This world may not be perfect, but the perceived cost of alternate strategies is deemed to be too high to receive attention.
  • Supply to the Rescue. A world that relies on supply-side solutions to a broad range of energy issues. The abundant supply of low-cost natural gas in this world spurs economic growth and development, particularly in energy dependent businesses.
  • Double Whammy. A world that incorporates both high gas prices and high societal concerns about environmental costs. Taken together, these factors produce a more than proportionate share in their impact on the economy. Technology advances offer a collaborative basis for meeting the challenges of this world.
  • Biting the Bullet. A world in which painful actions need to be taken in the near term to forestall even more painful consequences in the future. The climate change issues of Biting the Bullet have such a large impact on society that precipitous actions are required as society attempts to deal with a series of crises.

The results of this scenario analysis will be an input into the analysis supporting the next EPRI Technology Roadmap.
EPRI Technology Scenarios: Interim Report (PDF: 1.3 MB)

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