If the national energy objective is to enhance our national security through a form of energy independence, it’s almost certain that supply measures alone won’t get us there. There must also be policies in place that address the demand side. Even a modest reduction in demand of about a million barrels a day between 2012 and 2020 seems achievable just with more emphasis on already available and cost-effective energy efficiency technologies. The same approach can be deployed for more efficient use of electric power.
Interestingly, a lot of the basis for reduced energy use may be future demographics. There are two very big demographic trends already in place. One is the movement of the baby boom generation into the age group 55 and older, which has two characteristics to it that are different from people who are under 55. One is that there are fewer cars per household in the 55 and older crowd. And the other is that age group also has fewer vehicle miles traveled per year. Those are demographic factors that weigh heavily on future oil consumption. The other is people in the age group television networks love – roughly 20-40 – have become much more urban than previous generations. The fact is that these people are marrying less, having fewer children, are more urban, own fewer cars, and drive fewer miles. And in a few years the vehicle fleet we all use will be required to average 54/mpg. The same consumption patterns also apply to use of electric energy.
The key to national energy security would be use of these savings to reduce purchases from the unstable and unsavory regimes that currently provide a significant portion of our oil and ramp up our use of North American energy resources. An “all of the above” policy would include domestic conventional sources coal, gas, nuclear and oil as well as domestic renewables hydro, solar, wind, and bio-fuels. This makes sense to us as we already utilize “all of the above” except bio-fuels.