Skip to Content

Our Energy Future by the Numbers

Statistics from the U.S. government suggest that our energy choices and level of consumption will not change much over the next few decades.
January 31, 2011

If you want to create an effective energy policy for your company, you need to understand how energy consumption and production are likely to change in the foreseeable future. At least two broad trends are important to keep in mind. First, while renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power, receive a great deal of attention, they will remain minor contributors to our overall energy mix. Nearly all our energy is derived from fossil fuels, whether petroleum, natural gas, or coal, and that will remain true for at least the next few decades. Second, demand for energy will continue to grow, keeping prices high. Although industrial energy consumption fell in 2009 as a result of the worldwide recession, by 2017 or so the industrial sector will consume more energy than all other users combined. That will not change for decades to come.

There is, of course, a wild card. If consumption trends continue and economic growth is strong, carbon dioxide emissions from fossil-fuel use will nearly double by 2035. If, as climate scientists predict, this buildup of carbon dioxide begins producing dire effects related to global warming, all bets are off, because governments are likely to consider radical remedies to increase the use of cleaner energy sources.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

SpaceX Starship
SpaceX Starship

How SpaceX’s massive Starship rocket might unlock the solar system—and beyond

With the first orbital test launch of Starship on the horizon, scientists are dreaming about what it might make possible— from trips to Neptune to planetary defense.

a Chichuahua standing on a Great Dane
a Chichuahua standing on a Great Dane

DeepMind says its new language model can beat others 25 times its size

RETRO uses an external memory to look up passages of text on the fly, avoiding some of the costs of training a vast neural network

Conceptual illustration of a therapy session
Conceptual illustration of a therapy session

The therapists using AI to make therapy better

Researchers are learning more about how therapy works by examining the language therapists use with clients. It could lead to more people getting better, and staying better.

Photograph of Geothermal power plant located at Reykjanes peninsula in Iceland. Aerial view
Photograph of Geothermal power plant located at Reykjanes peninsula in Iceland. Aerial view

What it will take to unleash the potential of geothermal power

Four new pilot plants funded by the US infrastructure bill could help expand the range of the “forgotten renewable.”

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.