Survey: Industry optimistic on U.S. reaching energy independence

A majority of energy executives now believe the U.S. can achieve energy independence by 2030, according to a survey by the KPMG Global Energy Institute. Fewer executives think the U.S. will “never” gain energy independence.

According to the survey, 62 percent of respondents believe the U.S. can achieve energy independence by 2030, and 23 percent believe the U.S. can be energy independent by 2020. This number is up from last year, when 52 percent of respondents believed U.S. energy independence was possible by 2030.

The 11th annual Energy Industry Outlook Survey polled more than 100 senior executives in the U.S. representing global companies.

The number of executives polled who believe the U.S. can never reach energy dependence dropped to 17 percent from 27 percent in 2012 as well, according to the survey.

The majority of respondents also believed the energy industry’s emphasis in developing environmentally friendly technologies should focus on natural gas, with 79 percent supporting that view.

Natural gas was followed by nuclear with 39 percent, solar with 33 percent and clean coal technologies with 32 percent. According to a statement from KPMG, those results show a slight shift away from the “total bullishness around natural gas” in the 2012 survey results.

In addition, 95 percent of energy executives indicated they expect continued research and development investment in alternative energy projects, with 55 percent believing investments will remain the same in 2013. The number of respondents predicting a 10 percent increase in R&D development nearly tripled to 30 percent in 2013 from 11 percent in 2012, however.

Shale gas and oil is believed to be the most targeted for investment, with 54 percent of respondents indicating that, followed by solar energy at 29 percent, wind energy at 25 percent, biofuels at 19 percent and clean coal technologies at 17 percent.

The respondents also cited a variety of significant challenges to increasing renewable generation on their systems. Of those challenges, 50 percent of respondents indicated the cost of competitive nonrenewable energy, 39 percent indicated the cost of a new system and 28 percent indicated the complexity of renewable project financing and transmission.

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