RAEL report: Reducing energy dependence is possible

By | June 01, 2006
In less than 20 years, the United States will no longer have to rely on imported Middle Eastern oil, according to an aggressive comprehensive energy plan detailed in a recently completed University of California-Berkeley report.

Compiled by researchers at Berkeley's Renewables and Appropriate Energy Laboratory (RAEL), the report, titled "Towards Energy Independence in 2025," suggests reducing oil consumption through higher Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, aggressive adoption of hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles, and the diversification of the fuel supply using ethanol.

The report details immediate and long-term measures that could reduce oil imports by more than 30 percent within 20 years. These measures could deliver daily oil use savings of more than 22 percent—equivalent to the 6.3 million barrels per day the United States currently imports from the Persian Gulf. In addition, carbon emissions from the light-duty transportation sector could be reduced by 50 percent.

Under the report, an aggressive CAFE standard increase of 40 miles per gallon by 2025, hybrid usage and ethanol usage would result in savings of 6.28 million barrels of oil per day.

The report assumed ethanol market share would reach 30 percent by 2050. An aggressive stance was 30 percent market share by 2030. Both assumptions were largely based on the successful commercial development of a cellulose ethanol industry. This most aggressive case scenario eliminates all Persian Gulf imports as early as 2021.

In addition to reducing the country's dependence on oil, these strategies help to reduce carbon emissions from transportation sources, which currently account for 33 percent of total U.S. emissions. The light-duty fleet accounts for 26 percent of total emissions and 79 percent of transportation emissions.

The non-profit Americans for Energy Independence funded the study.

It appears the federal government is beginning to take steps similar to those outlined in the study. In late March, the Bush Administration announced plans for tightening the CAFE standards and applying them to large sport utility vehicles and certain light trucks for the first time.

More information about Americans for Energy Independence can be found at www.ei2025.org. More information about RAEL can be found at http://rael.berkeley.edu. Copies of the report can be obtained by contacting Americans for Energy Independence.