Energize America Assumptions

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DISCLAIMER - this is a working document, far from final form, and only portions of it have been vetted by the Energize America team.

Assumptions and Sources for Energize America


Sources Quoted in Acts

  • Act I: "feebates" - see Rocky Mountain Institute’s ‘Winning the Oil Endgame’, [1]
  • Act II: Gasaoline as a fraction of US petroleum use - see [2]
  • Act II: CO2 as a Greenhouse gas - see [3]
  • Act III: US Government fleet of automobiles and trucks - see [4]
  • Act III: school buses - see [5]
  • Act IV: San Francisco solar project - see [6]
  • Act VII: Wind energy potential - see [7]
  • Act IX: Renewable Portfolio Standards and Renewable Energy Credits - see [8]
  • Act XIII: UK Sustainable Development Commission - see [9]

Other Sources


Acts I-III - Feebates and Fuel Economy Improvements

The following sources and data are relevant to:


  • Winning the Oil Endgame, Technical Annex, Conventions, RMI
  • NADA Data 2006: Economic Impact of America's new-car and new-truck dealers
  • Light-duty automotive technology and fuel economy trends: 1975-2005, EPA.


(1) EA harmonizes AEO (2006), RMI (2003), and DOT (2004) categorizations of vehicles to simplify "feebate" program methodology and correct RMI and AEO understatement of vehicle stock. EA basis is DOT total registered vehicles, 2004, excluding military vehicles and total industry output. Per AEO, fuel efficiency of conventional and alternative fuel is constant across sectors.

EA compiles "business" + "utility" figures not explicitly Farm or Public under Commercial.

(2) EA "cars" reconciles RMI and AEO with DOT registered vehicle subclasses of Personal & Commercial (P&C) use. Categorically NOT "business" OR "government" OR "utility" vehicles: all two-seaters, minicompacts, subcompacts, compacts, mid-size, and large cars. Model shares by type in the AEO 2006 are calculated in EA/DOT totals and constant over the period. "Utility" and "business" combined. DOT data rounded.

(3) DOT categorically differentiated Trucks (Class 1-6) and Trailers (Class 7,8) across sectors. EA P&C details are estimates, based on DOT data types where available, and AEO assumptions of market shares of "business" + "utility" uses.

(4) AEO differentiates Light Trucks (Class 1, 2) for purposes of calculating lifecycle and fleet contributions to aftermarket sales. Residual stock of fuel inefficent vehicles affect EA program objectives and cashflows dependent on new vehicle purchases. AEO and DOT light truck models include SUVs, pickups, van, minivans and Other Light Truck. EA bases forecast truck type and sector on DOT and NADA figures, 2004-2005.

(5) DOT subclasses of P&C/Trucks combine Class 3-6 "utility" vehicles included in total P&C Trucks. DOT Trailers is a separate set of both sectors.

(6) AEO assumes a vehicle's product, distinct from useful (depreciable), lifecycle is a demand characteristic and integral of total vehicle stock and EA forecast growth. DOT 2005 registered vehicle data were unavailable at time of publication. EA assumes RMI LDV retirement rate 0.0769 constant for total vehicle registration over the EA period.

(7) Fuel efficiency, miles per gallon (EPA-rated mpg) and degraded or actual (On-road) mpg, for each EA vehicle model are averages from AEO Table 49 or RMI data or actual (2004) figures per model where available. Degredation factors assume increases in city/highway driving, congestion levels, rising highway speeds, and the amount of reformulated gasoline in use in a given year. EA rate of fuel efficiency improvement (constant) over the period assumes year of introduction and incremental fuel and capital cost of introducing new technologies as tabulated in the sources.

(8) EA standardizes Vehicle Miles Travelled (VMT) per vehicle per year at 15,000 to calculate program "savings" as the difference between base and efficient fuel costs, energy expenditure (Btu), fuel consumption (gasoline), GHG (tons/yr/vehicle) over the program period. Per RMI note on NEMS, EA does not distinguish between between fleet types, although AEO calculates marginal differences. (9) Total fuel use in gallons per year is the ratio of VMT to On-road mpg.

(10) EA mpgE Basis is standard for P&C and Public. Rebate is indexed to EPA-rated mpg of new vehicle purchases only. Fee is indexed to on-road mpg at registration renewal thereafter, approximately every 3 years, when emission tests are typically required.

(11) EA adopts AEO percentage shares of alternative fuel (AF) vehicles as tablulated for new sales over the period 2007-2020. EA data breaks are cars (LVD), trucks, and trailers, for both P&C and Public sectors. Cumulative penetration of total vehicle stock is calculated for program revenue (cost) over the period. Incremental "savings" are tabulated by total sales per year. Per RMI, EA does not assume a market for new technology type Trailer (HVY truck, DL 7,8) within the period. RMI efficiency MPG factors carried as SOA baseline EA 2020 fuel economy or EPA-rated MPG for the model.

(12) AEO 2006, Tables 36-45, sup_transportation.xls, estimate stock, average annual growth, technology type, and characteristics 2003- 2030 by region. Regional differences are statisticaly insignificant. Stock values include personal vehicles, fleet vehicles, and freight LT trucks. EA growth of new alternative fuel cars, LT trucks, and Hvy Truck (Trailer) taken for the period selected at random to apply DOT registration, 2004. AEO totals do not reconcile DOT 2003 or 2004 data.

(13) Excludes commercial buses in the original. AEO total vehicle stock 2004 given as 211.55M, compared to DOT 261.5M registered.

Acts I-III - Gasoline Prices


Acts IV and XI - Community and State Investment

This refers to Act IV - The Community-Based Energy Investment Act and Act XI - The State-Based Renewable Energy Investment Act

We need definitions of eligible state and local entities (local independent non-profit power authorities?) and what kinds of energy efficiency/renewable options are allowed. Presumably non-transportation, since transportation efficiency improvements are covered in Acts I-III?

Numbers questions:

  • How much state and local money is going into renewable and efficiency efforts today? Many states already have rebate programs for solar installations, for example.
  • How much community energy generation is there now?
  • How much of a difference could this make: total savings, CO2, etc.

Act V - Passenger Rail

This refers to Act V - The Passenger Rail Restoration Act.

Are there actually companies out there just waiting for federal assistance on permitting to build these high-speed intercity lines?

Passenger numbers - the act quotes "taking 90% of airline traffic for point-to-point trips of less than 2 hours (300 miles), and 50% of airline traffic for trips lasting 3 hours (500 miles)." - references?!

The following source outlines basic steps to significantly reducing US oil consumption through an expansion of electric rail infrastructure:

Act VI - Clean Coal

This refers to Act VI - The Clean Coal Generation Act.

  • numbers on existing coal plants (see below).

What are we assuming here on reductions in CO2? Do we have projections on number of coal plants currently in planning phases, and planned rollout of new technologies? Or is the zero-carbon solution waiting for the demonstration plant (Act XII) first?

Act VII - Wind

This refers to Act VII - The Wind Energy Production Tax Credit Act

  • numbers on existing wind power (see below).

We need references on projected wind installations, existing production tax credit expenses, etc.

Also, references on the job creation numbers. Don't more jobs created add to the overall costs of the power? What's the balance there?

Act VIII - Solar

This refers to Act VIII - The 20 Million Solar Roof Act

Will we actually get 10 million solar heating units just by maintaining an existing credit? Do we actually want to? We need numbers on how much solar heating actually saves in CO2 etc compared with the best alternatives: gas heaters or geoexchange systems? Is it really worth the expected $20 billion investment for this component?

10 million (<6 kW) systems adding up to 15 GW? That would mean 1.5 kW average - is that what we would expect?

Act IX - Renewable Portfolio

This refers to Act IX - The Renewable Portfolio Standards Act

We need, at least, cost numbers on administration of a credit program of this sort.

Act X - Net Metering

This refers to Act X - The Federal Net Metering Act

Data on expenses associated with grid connection to enable net metering - what are the costs to business and end-consumers?

Numerical Relationships

Basic units

  • 1 Tg = 1 billion kg = 1 million metric tons
  • 1 QBtu = 1 quadrillion btu, or 1 billion times 1 million btu; the US consumes about 100 of these per year.


  • 1 barrel of oil = 42 US gallons
  • 1 gallon of gasoline = 125,000 Btu
  • EPA emissions facts: 1 gallon of gasoline = 19.4 pounds of CO2
  • 1 gallon of diesel = 22.2 pounds of CO2
  • 1 barrel of oil/day approximately 140 tons of CO2/year
  • coal emissions: about 210 pounds of CO2/million btu
  • natural gas: about 115 pounds CO2/million btu

Baseline: AEO 2006

See http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/aeo/

Reference year: 2004

US Primary energy use in 2004:

  • Petroleum: 40.08 quadrillion btu
  • Natural Gas: 23.07 quadrillion btu
  • Coal: 22.53 quadrillion btu
  • Nuclear: 8.23 quadrillion btu
  • Hydro: 2.73 quadrillion btu
  • Other renewable: 3.39 quadrillion btu
  • Total primary energy use: 100.03 quadrillion btu

US CO2 emissions in 2004:

  • Petroleum: 2596 million metric tons
  • Gas: 1205 million metric tons
  • Coal: 2107 million metric tons
  • Total: 5908 million metric tons

US Primary energy production by sector, 2004: - see http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/aer/txt/ptb0201a.html

  • Residential: 7.02 quadrillion btu
  • Commercial: 4.07 quadrillion btu
  • Industrial: 22.08 quadrillion btu
  • Transportation: 27.71 quadrillion btu
  • Electric:
    • Residential use: 14.15 quadrillion btu
    • Commercial use: 13.44 quadrillion btu
    • Industrial use: 11.17 quadrillion btu
    • Transportation use: 0.08 quadrillion btu
    • Total Electric: 38.85 quadrillion btu
  • Total: 99.73 quadrillion btu

Target year: 2020

AEO 2006 projections for US primary energy use in 2020:

  • Petroleum: 48.14 quadrillion btu
  • Natural gas: 27.70 quadrillion btu
  • Coal: 27.65 quadrillion btu
  • Nuclear: 9.09 quadrillion btu
  • Hydro: 3.04 quadrillion btu
  • Other renewable: 5.92 quadrillion btu
  • Total primary energy use: 121.54 quadrillion btu

AEO 2006 projected US CO2 emissions in 2020 (assuming same ratios):

  • Petroleum: 3118 million metric tons
  • Natural Gas: 1447 million metric tons
  • Coal: 2586 million metric tons
  • Total: 7151 million metric tons

Electric Power: Technologies, Numbers and Costs

See Jerome's Diary Entry for some details on this. The following numbers are for the United States.


  • Basic technology: burning fuel to provide heat for steam turbine.
  • Efficiency (heat rate): 35% typical; little improvement possible
  • Capital costs: $1000-$1200/kW
  • Fuel costs (2004): 1.3 cents/kWh (from fuel costs of 136 cents/million btu)
  • Installed base (2004): 1526 plants, 335 GW (average generator 220 MW)
  • 2004 production: 1.98 trillion kWh (67% capacity factor)
  • CO2 emissions: 2.0 pounds CO2/kWh; 1.85 billion tons total
  • Other issues:
    • coal mining hazardous to workers and environmentally destructive
    • many other pollutants released in burning (controlled by Clean Air Act)
    • excess deaths from coal pollution still believed to be about 30,000/year in US.
    • coal supply is large but finite; thinner seams will be more costly to extract.
  • Advanced technology options:
    • gasification, integrated combined cycle operations - 17% reduction in CO2 emissions through higher overall efficiency ($1400/kW)
    • sequestration - 100% reduction in CO2 through underground or other storage. ($2000/kW)


  • Basic technology: burning fuel to run motor with alternator.
  • Efficiency (heat rate): 40% typical
  • Capital costs: $400-600/kW
  • Fuel costs (2004): 5 cents/kWh (fuel costs of 596 cents/million btu)
  • Installed base (2004): 3048 plants, 257 GW (average generator 84 MW)
  • 2004 production: 709 billion kWh (31% capacity factor)
  • CO2 emissions: 0.98 pounds CO2/kWh; 315 million metric tons total
  • Advanced technology options:
    • integrated combined cycle - use both heat and mechanical energy of combustion gases to reach 50% higher efficiency


  • Basic technology: diesel internal combustion with alternator
  • Efficiency (heat rate): 38% typical
  • Capital costs: $400-600/kW
  • Fuel costs: 4 cents/kWh (fuel costs of 429 cents/million btu)
  • Installed base (2004): 3175 plants, 38 GW (average generator 12 MW)
  • 2004 production: 121 billion kWh (36% capacity factor)
  • CO2 emissions: 1.45 pounds CO2/kWh; 80 million metric tons total
  • Advanced technology options: none?


  • Basic technology: nuclear fission to provide heat for steam turbine.
  • Efficiency: 35% typical
  • Capital costs: $2000-3000/kW ? (No recent US experience)
  • Fuel costs: 0.5 cents/kWh
  • Installed base (2004): 104 plants, 106 GW (average generator 1020 MW)
  • 2004 production: 788 billion kWh (85% capacity factor)
  • CO2 emissions: 0
  • Other issues:
    • uranium fuel has limited supply
    • enrichment necessary for most reactor operations, part of the process needed to develop weapons capabilities - proliferation risks
    • breeder reactor proliferation risks from plutonium
    • storage and disposal of long-lived waste unsettled
    • public fear of radiation; Chernobyl accident
  • Advanced technology options:
    • High temperature reactors (higher efficiency)
    • pebble bed and other "inherently safe" designs
    • Fuel reprocessing and breeder reactors, to extend uranium supply
    • Fusion (ITER project under development)


  • Basic technology: turbine rotated directly by wind
  • Efficiency: 35% typical; Betz limit close to 60%
  • Capital costs: $1000-$1200/kW
  • Fuel costs: 0
  • Installed base (2004): 6.0 GW
  • 2004 production: 14 billion kWh (27% capacity factor)
  • CO2 emissions: 0
  • Other issues:
    • intermittency and unpredictability of wind power require backup generator or energy storage capacity

Solar Photovoltaic

  • Basic technology: converts light directly to electricity in semiconductor cells
  • Efficiency: 10-20% typical, up to 40% achieved in the lab.
  • Capital costs: $5000-8000/kW (before tax credits)
  • Fuel costs: 0
  • Installed base (2004): 0.4 GW
  • 2004 production: 579 million kWh (17% capacity factor)
  • CO2 emissions: 0
  • Other issues:
    • Practical and almost as efficient in very small installations, down to a few kW (household roof-top scale)
    • intermittency and unpredictability of solar power require backup generator or energy storage capacity
    • semiconductor materials may be in short supply: gallium in particular. For silicon, industry is transitioning to independent supplies from previous reliance on materials also used by computer chip industry.
  • Advanced technology options:
    • thin film - lower use of expensive semiconducting materials
    • solar concentrator - also allows lower use of semiconductors

Effects of Finance

The mix of options ranges from those with low capital costs but high fuel costs (natural gas and diesel generators) to those with very high capital costs and zero fuel costs (solar). Operations and maintenance costs in addition to fuel will add to the resulting cost per kWh. If a project can be financed with a low interest rate, higher capital costs may be manageable; if interest rates are high, then only projects with low capital costs will be economical.


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