What follows is a piece that I am reposting from CleanTechnica, one of the energy blogs I follow. If you want honest and up-to-date reporting on what's happening in energy, particularly clean energy, this is a blog you should be reading.
The Energy Information Agency (EIA) is part of the US Department of Energy. The EIA is tasked with turning energy data into reports and projections on the energy industry. Unfortunately, EIA appears to be populated with insiders from the traditional fossil fuel and nuclear energy industries. They are adept at employing corrupt assumptions to draw indefensible conclusions. The energy forecasts they have put forward are wildly off base; thoroughly corrupted by a biased approach that favors the old ways over the new to a ridiculous degree. Read what follows. You will surely come to the same conclusion.
The following is an open letter a few CleanTechnica readers wrote, after discussing recent EIA forecasts down in the comments section. As you’ll see, it’s in response to some absurd forecasts regarding US renewable energy adoption. Here’s one highlight:
it was forecast that we would reach 0.45 GW of Solar PV on the grid by 2035, in November 2013 we reached 7.11 GW according to the FERC.Anyway, below is the letter, followed by some renewable energy charts I’m adding and some additional commentary.
Surely, in making new predictions it would be appropriate for the EIA to address how their models could produce a 25 year forecast which has already been surpassed 16 times over in less than 3 years.
To Dr. Ernest Moniz, US Secretary of EnergyDear Secretary Moniz
No thermal solar is constructed past 2014.
That doesn’t look like it’s going to flatline, does it?
Addendum/Update following some discussion with experts on Twitter: So, what is the underlying issue with the EIA’s forecasts? The key issues are the assumptions. One of the most important assumptions is that they don’t include any changes in policy going forward. (Meaning, policies in place today remain in place until they expire… and then no new policies are added.) So, fossil fuels and nuclear keep their subsidies (which are written into the tax code and don’t expire), but renewables lose theirs within a couple of years or so and then never regain them again, and never get any policy support again. This results in pretty good base forecasts off of which other forecasts based on different policy scenarios can be built, using a variety of different policy assumptions, but it also means that no responsible person or media outlet should treat the base EIA forecast as being anything close to what will happen in reality.
Furthermore, beyond the no-policy-change assumptions, the EIA uses a number of rather questionable cost and integration assumptions. These assumptions negatively impact the renewable energy forecasts. But that’s obviously a more complicated matter for a separate, longer discussion.
In the end, the biggest issue seems to be this: the mass media often reports on and references these EIA forecasts as if they are actual forecasts for what will occur in the future. This results in massive misinformation spreading far and wide. Part of the blame is certainly on the mass media, but part of the blame is also on the EIA for not being very clear about this when presenting its “forecasts” and sharing them with the public and media. For example, in the executive summary of the early release of the Annual Energy Outlook 2014, it is written that the projections are made “under the assumption that current laws and regulations remain generally unchanged throughout the projection period.” That can easily be read as saying that, when the laws expire, the EIA is assuming that the laws are renewed and continue as they are set today. But it actually means that there will be no laws renewed and no new laws supporting renewable energy development will be enacted, which is completely unlikely to happen. A member of the mass media could very easily misunderstand that line… if they look at it at all.
And, again, there are a number of other technical assumptions that are very questionable and counter to renewables.
The end point: don’t treat the EIA’s Annual Energy Outlook base case projections as actual, realistic projections. They are primarily useful for forecasters as building blocks for their own more realistic forecasts.
Read more at http://cleantechnica.com/2014/01/10/horrible-eia-forecasts-letter-cleantechnica-readers/#2PuJphLy8zoygD5O.99