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Primary energy consumption in U.S. industry

Energy use for U.S. industry is conventionally projected to grow from 24.4 quads in 2010 to 30.5 quads in 2050.

In 2010, more than four-fifths of energy use in U.S. industry came from fossil fuels. Natural gas is the dominant source of energy (~35%).


Electricity scenarios

In Reinventing Fire, Rocky Mountain Institute investigates the implications of four radically different future electricity scenarios - from a “business-as-usual” case to a network of intelligent microgrids powered largely by distributed renewables.


Historic and projected U.S. electricity demand, 1950-2050

While U.S. demand for electricity has risen in all but four years since 1949, the rate of increase has been steadily trending down. The Energy Information Administration predicts an annual growth rate around +1% to 2030 (which RMI extrapolates to 2050). Successfully implementing the energy efficiency improvements in buildings and industry discussed in Reinventing Fire could reduce this to a steady –1%.


Reinventing Fire U.S. energy consumption, 2050

In 2050, Reinventing Fire envisions an economy that uses 71 quadrillion BTUs of primary energy—70% of that energy is supplied by wind, solar and biomass.


Value of U.S. energy savings, 2010–2050

By Reinventing Fire, the U.S. economy can capture a net present value (2010) saving of $5 trillion. Three fourths of this value is created by changes in the transportation sector and the remaining quarter is driven by changes in the buildings, industry and electricity sectors.


Residential building energy efficiency supply curve, by end use, 2050

To determine how much residential building energy can be saved at what cost we created efficiency supply curves.


Commercial building energy efficiency supply curve, by end use, 2050

To determine how much commercial building energy can be saved at what cost, we created efficiency supply curves.


McKelvey diagram for coal or gas resources

Any electricity future dependent on significant coal or gas resources brings with it the added risk of fuel availability. The McKelvey diagram is a useful visualization for classifying resources by their degrees of geologic assurance and economic recoverability.


Solar thermal competitiveness with 2009 U.S. industrial natural gas prices

Solar thermal heating can deliver some of the process heating requirements for industry.

Given the high volatility of natural gas prices, pricing for solar thermal projects on a lifecycle cost of heat basis can be competitive with natural gas.


U.S. installed wind and solar power capacities and projections, 1990–2050

Together, wind and solar will account for 71% of total U.S. installed capacity in 2050 in Rocky Mountain Institute’s Transform case, up from 4.4% in 2010. Along with hydro, geothermal, and biomass, renewables will meet more than 80% of 2050 U.S. electricity demand.


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