United States of America

Index rank 15

Balance Score

AAC

Energy Sustainability Index Rankings and Balance Score

 2011  2012  2013  Trend Score
Energy Performance  17  16  15   
Energy Security  19  17  12  A
Energy Equity  1  1  1  A
Environmental Sustainability  90  88  86  C
         
Contextual Performance  19  22  20   
Political Strength  30  30  24   
Societal Strength  21  27  27   
Economic Strength  23  23  29   
         
Overall Rank  16  16  15  AAC
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Fossil Fuel Reserves

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Key Metrics

Industrial sector (% of GDP) 19.1
TPEP / TPEC  (net energy importer) 0.76
Emission intensity (kg CO2 per USD) 0.39
Energy affordability (USD per kWh) 0.12
GDP / capita (PPP, USD); GDP Group 48,328 (I)
Energy intensity (million BTU per USD) 0.17
CO2 emissions (metric tons CO2 per capita) 16.78
Population Access to Electricity (%) 100.0
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Index Commentary

The United States moves up one place in this year’s Index to rank 15 overall. The United States continues to balance the three dimensions of the energy trilemma in a fashion that is typical for a ‘Fossil-Fuelled’ country. Strong performances on energy security and energy equity are partially offset by the country’s large environmental footprint. The energy consumption growth rate continues to decline and the diversity of the electricity generation portfolio increases, leading to an improved energy security ranking. Furthermore, the recent development of sources of shale gas will likely help the United States become a net energy exporter in the near future. The country maintains its global first-place ranking on the energy equity dimension, as it continues to offer some of the most (relatively) affordable energy in the world. Performance on the environmental sustainability dimension continues to lag behind, due to particularly high levels of energy and emissions intensities, and a CO2 emissions-heavy, predominantly conventional, thermal energy mix. Contextually, the Unites States’ performance remains constant, with the weakest indicator continuing to be macroeconomic stability as the country continues to struggle to recover from the recession.

Trends and Outlook

Due to advances in horizontal drilling and in hydraulic fracturing, shale gas production has become economically viable in recent years. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that the country has more than 1,744 trn cubic feet of technically recoverable natural gas, including 211 tcf of proved reserves (the discovered, economically recoverable fraction of the original gas-in-place. Production of shale gas is expected to increase from a 2007 US total of 1.4 tcf to 4.8 tcf in 2020. The significant increases in domestic oil and gas production will greatly reduce oil imports over the next 10 years, and lead to increased exports of refined products and possibly natural gas.

Important energy policy developments in the United States that will impact on the country’s balance in the three dimensions of energy sustainability include: 1) the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations on coal leading to the projected closure of more than 200 coal plants in the next few years accounting for more than 10% of the USA’s current energy production; 2) possible regulations on unconventional gas production; and 3) the extension (or not) of the wind production tax credit, which can cut the cost of developing a wind project by nearly a third.