U.S. Energy Demand: Some Low Energy Futures

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Science  14 Apr 1978:
Vol. 200, Issue 4338, pp. 142-152
DOI: 10.1126/science.200.4338.142


The basic features of the U.S. energy supply and utilization system change so slowly that an understanding of the dynamics of major change requires projections that extend several decades. Over such a time most energy-consuming capital stock is replaced, life-styles change, and technology evolves. This study of plausible low energy futures leans heavily on detailed engineering analysis of demand by sector, combined with econometric techniques where appropriate. The results indicate that, given time for the system to respond to prices, regulations, and incentives, U.S. energy demand is very elastic. Consequently, a major slowdown in demand growth can be achieved simultaneously with significant economic growth by substituting technological sophistication for energy consumption.