U.S. energy consumption may not return to 2019 levels until 2029, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) forecast in its Annual Energy Outlook 2021, released Feb. 3.

The estimate is based on the pace of economic recovery, which is complicated by the continued impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. If the U.S. is saddled with low economic growth, the EIA said, energy consumption will not hit 2019 levels again until as late as 2050.

“It will take a while for the energy sector to get to its new ‘normal,’” EIA Acting Administrator Stephen Nalley said in a statement prior to the report’s release. “The pandemic triggered a historic energy demand shock that led to lower greenhouse gas emissions, decreases in energy production, and sometimes volatile commodity prices in 2020. The pace of economic recovery, advances in technology, changes in trade flows and energy incentives will determine how the United States produces and consumes energy in the future.”

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