Increasing use of the Internet and other information and communications technologies (ICTs) marks a U.S. transition toward a "digital society" that may profoundly affect electricity supply, demand and delivery. RAND developed four 20-year scenarios of ICT evolution (2001-2021) for the U.S. Department of Energy and assessed their implications for future U.S. electricity requirements. Increased power consumption by ICT equipment is the most direct and visible effect, but not necessarily the most important. Over time, the effects that ICTs have on energy management, e-commerce, telework, and related trends will likely be much more consequential. Even large growth in the deployment and use of digital technologies will only modestly increase U.S. electricity use over the next two decades. The more pressing concern for an emerging digital society will be how to provide the higher-quality and more-reliable power that ICTs demand.
Table of Contents
Acronyms and Abbreviations
Approach and Methodology
Information and Communications Technology Scenarios
Implications of the Scenarios for U.S. Electricity Use
Implications of the Scenarios for the U.S. Electricity System
Conclusions and Recommendations
Information and Communications Technology Scenario Matrix
ICT-Related Electricity Use Projections
The research described in this report was performed under the auspices of RAND Science and Technology.
This report is part of the RAND Corporation Monograph report series. The monograph/report was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1993 to 2003. RAND monograph/reports presented major research findings that addressed the challenges facing the public and private sectors. They included executive summaries, technical documentation, and synthesis pieces.
Our mission to help improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis is enabled through our core values of quality and objectivity and our unwavering commitment to the highest level of integrity and ethical behavior. To help ensure our research and analysis are rigorous, objective, and nonpartisan, we subject our research publications to a robust and exacting quality-assurance process; avoid both the appearance and reality of financial and other conflicts of interest through staff training, project screening, and a policy of mandatory disclosure; and pursue transparency in our research engagements through our commitment to the open publication of our research findings and recommendations, disclosure of the source of funding of published research, and policies to ensure intellectual independence. For more information, visit www.rand.org/about/research-integrity.
This document and trademark(s) contained herein are protected by law. This representation of RAND intellectual property is provided for noncommercial use only. Unauthorized posting of this publication online is prohibited; linking directly to this product page is encouraged. Permission is required from RAND to reproduce, or reuse in another form, any of its research documents for commercial purposes. For information on reprint and reuse permissions, please visit www.rand.org/pubs/permissions.
The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.