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U.S. energy future depends on natural gas and energy efficiency, according to World Energy Outlook

The U.S. is in store for a bright energy future achieved by enhancing domestic energy security and boosting the competitiveness of America’s manufacturing sector through abundant, affordable supplies of natural gas from shale and increased energy efficiency, according to the International Energy Agency’s 2012 World Energy Outlook, which forecasts trends through 2035.

The global energy map “is being redrawn by the resurgence in oil and gas production in the United States,” the report said, and America will become “all but self-sufficient in net terms” of its energy requirements, thanks to increased fossil fuel development and renewed deployment of energy efficiency technologies.

Report backs up earlier projections from IHS CERA

IEA is not alone in its projections. In October, a study by IHS CERA reached similar conclusions, suggesting that abundant supplies of shale would create 1.7 million jobs this year and could greatly affect the production of and demand for natural gas in the next 20+ years.

This is welcomed news for America’s chemical industry, which relies on natural gas not only for heat and power but also for its rich ethane content, which serves as a feedstock for creating the basic building blocks that go into thousands of manufactured products.

Lauding the IEA forecast, ACC President and CEO Cal Dooley called attention to the need for sound regulatory policies to ensure the U.S. can live up to its energy potential:

[quote]The IEA projections, which come after a recent analysis by IHS CERA that also showed increasing domestic natural gas production, underscore the importance of sound regulatory policies at the state level that will determine whether natural gas from shale remains a ‘game changer’ for America’s energy security and for our manufacturing sector or a sorely missed opportunity to generate economic growth and jobs.[/quote]

Making efficient use of the energy we produce

The IEA report also stresses the importance of energy efficiency in spurring economic growth and reducing energy consumption, pointing to ongoing opportunities for savings in the buildings and industry sectors.

The report details the importance of industrial energy efficiency, which can be promoted through new deployment of combined heat and power (CHP), which generates energy close to where it is needed and can produce energy twice as efficiently as older coal-burning electric utilities.

Just like other studies, the IEA report emphasizes the importance of a comprehensive domestic energy strategy for the United States. Through chemistry, the U.S. can leverage its abundant supplies of natural gas from shale and create energy efficient technologies to pave the road for a strong, secure and sustainable energy future.

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