The Accuracy of Past Projections of U.S. Energy Consumption

O'Neill, B.C. & Desai, M. (2003). The Accuracy of Past Projections of U.S. Energy Consumption. IIASA Interim Report. IIASA, Laxenburg, Austria: IR-03-053

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Energy forecasts play a role in the development of energy and environmental policy. Evaluations of the accuracy of past projections can provide insight into the uncertainty that may be associated with current forecasts. They can also be used to identify the sources of inaccuracies, and potentially lead to improvements in projections over time. Here we assess the accuracy of projections of U.S. energy consumption produced by the Energy Information Administration over the period 1982-2000. We find that energy consumption projections have tended to underestimate future consumption. Projections 10 - 13 years into the future have had an average error of about 4%, and about half that for shorter time horizons. These errors mask much larger, offsetting errors in the projection of gross domestic product (GDP) and energy intensity. GDP projections have consistently been too high, and energy intensity projections consistently too low, by more than 15% for projections of 10 years or more. Further work on the source of these sizable inaccuracies should be a high priority. Finally, we find no evidence of improvement in projections of consumption, GDP, or energy intensity since 1982.

Item Type: Monograph (IIASA Interim Report)
Research Programs: Greenhouse Gas Initiative (GGI)
Depositing User: IIASA Import
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2016 02:15
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 17:18

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