Energy in the United States

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United States energy consumption by sector in 2007

The United States is the 2nd largest energy consumer in terms of total use in 2010.[1] The U.S. ranks seventh in energy consumption per-capita after Canada and a number of small nations.[2][3] Not included is the significant amount of energy used overseas in the production of retail and industrial goods consumed in the U.S.

The majority of this energy is derived from fossil fuels: in 2010, data showed 25% of the nation's energy came from petroleum, 22% from coal, and 22% from natural gas. Nuclear power supplied 8.4% and renewable energy supplied 8%,[4] which was mainly from hydroelectric dams and biomass but also included other renewable sources such as wind power, geothermal and solar energy.[5] Energy consumption has increased at a faster rate than domestic energy production over the last fifty years in the U.S.(when they were roughly equal). This difference is now largely met through imports.[6]

According to the Energy Information Administration's statistics, the per-capita energy consumption in the US has been somewhat consistent from the 1970s to today. The average has been 334 million British thermal units (BTUs) per person from 1980 to 2010. One explanation suggested for this is that the energy required to produce the increase in US consumption of manufactured equipment, cars, and other goods has been shifted to other countries producing and transporting those goods to the US with a corresponding shift of green house gases and pollution. In comparison, the world average has increased from 63.7 in 1980 to 75 million BTU's per person in 2008. On the other hand, US "off-shoring" of manufacturing is sometimes exaggerated: US domestic manufacturing has grown by 50% since 1980.[citation needed]


US energy consumption, by source, 1775-2010. Vertical axis is in quadrillion BTU

From its founding until the late 18th century, the United States was a largely agrarian country with abundant forests. During this period, energy consumption overwhelmingly focused on readily available firewood. Rapid industrialization of the economy, urbanization, and the growth of railroads led to increased use of coal, and by 1885 it had eclipsed wood as the nation's primary energy source.

Coal remained dominant for the next 7 decades, but by 1950, it was surpassed in turn by both petroleum and natural gas. In 2007, coal consumption was the highest it has ever been, with coal mostly being used to generate electricity.[7] Natural gas, which is cleaner-burning and more easily transportable, has replaced coal as the preferred source of heating in homes, businesses and industrial furnaces. Although total energy use increased by approximately a factor of 50 between 1850 and 2000, energy use per capita increased only by a factor of four. As of 2009, United States per capita energy use had declined to 7075 (kilograms of oil-equivalent), 12% less than 2000, and through 2010 (most recent available) is at levels not seen since 1960s usage levels.[8] At the beginning of the 20th century, petroleum was a minor resource used to manufacture lubricants and fuel for kerosene and oil lamps. One hundred years later it had become the preeminent energy source for the U.S. and the rest of the world. This rise closely paralleled the emergence of the automobile as a major force in American culture and the economy.

While petroleum is also used as a source for plastics and other chemicals, and powers various industrial processes, today two-thirds of oil consumption in the U.S. is in the form of its derived transportation fuels.[9] Oil's unique qualities for transportation fuels in terms of energy content, cost of production, and speed of refueling all contributed to it being used over other fuels.

In June 2010, the American Energy Innovation Council,[10] (which includes Bill Gates, Microsoft; Jeffrey R. Immelt, chief executive of General Electric; and John Doerr) has urged the government to more than triple spending on energy research and development, to $16 billion a year. Mr. Gates endorsed the administration’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050, but said that was not possible with today’s technology or politicism. He said that the only way to find such disruptive new technology was to pour large sums of money at the problem. The group notes that the federal government spends less than $5 billion a year on energy research and development, not counting one-time stimulus projects. About $30 billion is spent annually on health research and more than $80 billion on military R.& D. They advocate a jump in spending on basic energy research.[11]

US CO2 emissions have dropped about 1% per year through greater efficiency and a sluggish economy since 2008.

Current consumption[edit]

Main article: Energy supply
Energy in the United States[12]
CapitaPrim. energyProductionImportElectricityCO2-emission
Change 2004-105.5%-4.7 %5.1%-25.3 %5.7%-7.4  %
Mtoe = 11.63 TWh>, Prim. energy includes energy losses that are 2/3 for nuclear power[13]

Primary energy use in the United States was 25,155 TWh and 82 TWh per million persons in 2009. Primary energy use was 1,100 TWh less in the US than in China in 2009. Same year the share of energy import in the US was 26% of the primary energy use. The energy import declined ca 22% and the annual CO2 emissions ca 10% in 2009 compared to 2004.[14]

U.S. Energy Flow - 2012. A quad is 1015 BTU, or 1.055 × 1018 joules. Note the breakdown of useful and waste energy in each sector (dark vs. light grey) due to the nature of heat engines, which cannot convert all thermal energy into useful work and consequently lose a portion of their heat to the environment.
U.S. Primary Energy Consumption by Source and Sector, 2009. From the U.S. Energy Information Administration (Department of Energy).

Consumption by sector[edit]

The U.S. Department of Energy tracks national energy consumption in four broad sectors: industrial, transportation, residential, and commercial. The industrial sector has long been the country's largest energy user, currently representing about 33% of the total. Next in importance is the transportation sector, followed by the residential and commercial sectors.

Sector Summary
Sector NameDescriptionMajor uses[15][16][17]
IndustrialFacilities and equipment used for producing and processing goods.22% chemical production
16% petroleum refining
14% metal smelting/refining
TransportationVehicles which transport people/goods on ground, air or water.61% gasoline fuel
21% diesel fuel
12% aviation
ResidentialLiving quarters for private households.32% space heating
13% water heating
12% lighting
11% air conditioning
8% refrigeration
5% electronics
5% wet-clean (mostly clothes dryers)
CommercialService-providing facilities and equipment (businesses, government, other institutions).25% lighting
13% heating
11% cooling
6% refrigeration
6% water heating
6% ventilation
6% electronics

Consumption by source[edit]

The breakdown of energy consumption by source is given here:

Fuel type2006 US consumption in PWh[18]2006 World consumption in PWh[19]
Geothermal, wind,
solar, wood, waste

U.S, Primary Energy Consumption by Source and Sector in 2008 is tabled as following:

Consumption Summary'[20]
Supply SourcesPercent of SourceDemand SectorsPercent of Sector
71% Transportation
23% Industrial
5% Residential and Commercial
1% Electric Power
95% Petroleum
2% Natural Gas
3% Renewable Energy
Natural Gas
3% Transportation
34% Industrial
34% Residential and Commercial
29% Electric Power
42% Petroleum
40% Natural Gas
9% Coal
10% Renewable Energy
8% Industrial
<1% Residential and Commercial
91% Electric Power
Residential and Commercial
16% Petroleum
76% Natural Gas
1% Coal
1% Renewable Energy
Renewable Energy
11% Transportation
28% Industrial
10% Residential and Commercial
51% Electric Power
Electric Power
1% Petroleum
17% Natural Gas
51% Coal
9% Renewable Energy
21% Nuclear Electric Power
Nuclear Electric Power
100% Electric Power

Note: Sum of components may not equal 100 percent due to independent rounding.

Total Primary Consumption Historical Evolution in U.S until 2011.

Total Consumption until 2011 in Mtoe :[21]

200120022003200420052006200720082009201020112010-2011CAGR 2001-11

CAGR = Compound Annual Growth Rate Note: Total energy includes coal, gas, oil, electricity, heat and biomass.

Regional variation[edit]

Residential Energy Consumption per capita by State.[22]
US household energy usage.png
Average annual residential electricity usage by city, 2000-2005. Measured in Kilowatt hours per customer.[23]

Household energy use varies significantly across the United States. An average home in the Pacific region (consisting of California, Oregon, and Washington) consumes 35% less energy than a home in the South Central region. Some of the regional differences can be explained by climate. The heavily populated coastal areas of the Pacific states experience generally mild winters and summers, reducing the need for both home heating and air conditioning. The warm, humid climates of the South Central and South Atlantic regions lead to higher electricity usage, while the cold winters experienced in the Northeast and North Central regions result in much higher consumption of natural gas and heating oil. The state with the lowest per capita energy use is New York, at 205 million Btu/yr,[24] and the highest is Wyoming, at slightly over 1 billion Btu/yr.[25]

Other regional differences stem from energy efficiency measures taken at the local and state levels. California has some of the strictest environmental laws and building codes in the country, leading its per-household energy consumption to be lower than all other states except Hawaii.

The land-use decisions of cities and towns also explain some of the regional differences in energy use. Townhouses are more energy efficient than single-family homes because less heat, for example, is wasted per person. Similarly, areas with more homes in a compact neighborhood encourage walking, biking and transit, thereby reducing transportation energy use. A 2011 U.S. E.P.A. study found that multi-family homes in urban neighborhoods, with well-insulated buildings and fuel-efficient cars, can save more than 2/3 of the energy used by conventionally built single-family houses in suburban areas (with standard cars).[26]


Further information: Oil megaprojects (2011)

For most of the twentieth century and the early part of the twenty-first century, the majority of energy consumed has been from oil - fossil fuel provided 81% of the world's energy in 2009, with oil the largest contribution.[27] The United States became a world power in the early 20th century as they increased development of oil production and influenced world oil reserves for growth and development.[28] As the 20th century developed, petroleum gained increasing importance by providing heating and power to the commercial and industrial sectors. Oil was also used in transportation; first for railroads and later for motor vehicles.[29]

As automobiles became more affordable, demand for oil quickly rose. Since the rise of the automobile industry, oil price, demand, and production have all increased. From 1900 to 1980, fuel was directly correlated with Gross National Product (GNP), oil shocks have often coincided with recessions, and the government has responded to oil shocks with a variety of methods.[30] In the 1920s, oil prices were peaking and many commentators believed that oil supplies were running out. Congress was confronted by requests to augment supplies, so a generous depletion allowance was enacted for producers in 1926, which increased investment returns substantially. This change induced additional exploration activity, and subsequently the discovery of large new oil reservoirs.[31]

The next decade the situation was reversed, with prices low and dropping. This led to demands for more “orderly” competition and set minimum oil prices. Rather than repealing the previous policies enacted in the 1920s, Congress enacted a price-support system. Similar cycles have occurred in the 1950s and 1970s.[31]


With the exception of one, every US recession since World War II experienced a sharp increase in the price of oil. This correlation strongly signifies the US dependency of oil for the economy, as well as oil’s importance in US development for most of the time since the war. Many of the key cases of crude oil price increases in the post-war period were associated with political upheaval from oil rich countries.[32] Domestic production and consumption were outpaced by US demand toward the end of the 1960s, and Middle Eastern nations gained a significant amount of political leverage in controlling prices based on their production.[30] Price increases have been directly related to increased investment and subsequent production in oil. Following World War II, European reconstruction was the primary objective of the United States economy, and investment eventually rose after a long-term price increase at the end of the war. During the 1950s, there were strikes by oil workers, production restrictions imposed by the Texas Railroad Commission, as well as the Suez Crisis and Korean War—all creating steep price increases, with prices only falling after production was able to meet demand. Peak Oil in the United States resulted in a definite decline of US reserves and even more strikes by oil workers. Additional singular events such as the OPEC embargo, the rupture of the Trans-Arabian Pipeline, and Iranian Nationalization of the oil industry led to further price increases that were never before seen. Each case was followed by a marked recession in the US economy.[32]

Recently, oil prices have risen, briefly, to as high as $145/barrel,[33] and U.S. gasoline prices jumped from $1.37 to $2.37/gallon in 2005,[34] leading to a search for alternate sources, and by 2012, less than half of US oil consumption was imported.[35]

Consumption and production[edit]

In the twentieth century, oil production became of more value, as the US industrialized and developed commercial transportation, such as railroads and motor vehicles. Furthermore, oil consumption also increased due to electricity. After electricity, oil became more important in commercial, manufacturing and residential sectors such as heating and cooking. Therefore, during this period, the growth of oil consumption indicates that the United States was becoming dependent on oil and it aided the growth of the domestic oil industry. However, U.S oil domestic production could not cover the growing demand in the U.S market, which led the U.S to look for a new supply internationally.[29]

U.S. consumption of oil increased 53% between 1915 and 1919, followed by another increase of 27% in 1920. The first shock of the transportation era occurred in 1920 and lasted for about a year. The shortage of oil devastated the entire West Coast with hour-long lines for gasoline, and in many places fuel was not available for at least a week. Finally, big production from Texas, California and Oklahoma took the shortage of oil away causing oil prices to fall 40% between 1920 and 1926. The Great Depression in 1929 was a time with growing supply and falling demand causing the price of oil to decrease about 66% from 1926 to 1931.[29]

Toward the end of World War II, the automotive era settled rapidly, and the U.S. demand of oil increased 12% between 1945 and 1947 while motor vehicle registrations increased by 22%. Around 1948, demand of oil exceeded supply of oil, leading the U.S. to start importing oil. Therefore, the U.S. quickly became a major importer of oil, instead of being the major exporter.[29]

In 1952, due to a strike by US oil refinery workers, the United States and the United Kingdom cut 30% of fuel delivery to civilian flights, while Canada postponed all private flights. Until the 1960s, the price of oil was relatively stable and the world market could cover the excess demand of oil in the U.S. However, in 1973, the price of oil increased due to the OPEC oil embargo against the U.S. They were against the U.S because the United States supported Israel in the Yom Kippur War. During that time, Arab members of OPEC reduced produce oil 4.4mb/d for two months, 7.5% of global output. During this time, people reduced their consumption of oil by turning down thermostats and carpooling to work. In addition, people were limited to 10 gallons of oil a week, and led to a downturn in oil consumption.[29]

After the Crisis of 1973, price of oil increased again between 1979 and 1980 due to the Iranian revolution. This crisis was related to political instability in a major oil-exporting region. During this period, oil consumption decreased due to new efficiency. Cars at that time were developed so less oil was required and industrialization was also advanced to reduce the consumption of oil. This led to a decline in U.S. demand of oil and reduced the amount of international imports. The last energy crises in the U.S occurred in 1990. This occurred because Iraq invaded Kuwait. Similar to the previous crisis, price of oil increased and oil consumption decreased but by a smaller amount and had a smaller effect.[29]

In 2010 70.5% of petroleum consumption in the U.S. was for transportation. Approximately 2/3 of transportation consumption was gasoline.[36] Today, U.S is still dependent on oil as oil is an important player socially, economically and politically. U.S. demand of oil is increasing exponentially causing the U.S. to continue to rely on foreign countries.[29]


Regulation of the oil market has been a major player in oil history. Policies affect the market in a variety of ways such as; price, production, consumption, supply and demand. The Oil market has a history of booms and troughs, which caused producers to demand government intervention. Many times this government involvement only made the situation worse, and many of the regulations were quickly ruled illegal and removed. Before World War II, many of the problems within the oil market were related to changing prices. During the 1920s, oil prices were beginning to peak leading to fears of oil depletion. In response to these fears, during Coolidge’s term, Congress enacted a depletion allowance to producers which led to a surge of investment in the oil business and the discovery of many new, large oil reservoirs. The next decade consisted of falling prices due to the new investment and overproduction. The declining prices led producers to demand some form of price support system. One example of how prices were propped up was a pro-rationing order made by the Texas Railroad Commission, which restricted oil production and increased price. This order was soon ruled illegal by federal district court in 1931. The 1930s was the beginning of large federal intervention in the oil industry and began with the creation of the National Industrial Recovery Act, in 1933. This act allowed for natural price competition, instead of agreements between the major producers. However, this act was ruled unconstitutional in 1934.

While the time before World War II was filled with issues regarding price, the post war era consisted of increasing oil imports partly due to the price support established during the 1920s and 1930s. The artificially high domestic prices led to a surge of imports from lower priced foreign producers. In 1955, a clause was added to the Reciprocal Trade Act Amendments which gave the president the power to limit imports of a specific commodity, if that particular commodity was harmful to the security of the nation. This clause allowed Eisenhower to enact oil import quotas in 1959 which ultimately caused international oil prices to decline. These import quotas restricted international oil companies from the US market, and led them to form OPEC. During the 1970s, Richard Nixon put in place many phrases of price controls. After many new regulations that altered the original price control system, President Carter eventually began removing these controls in 1979.[31] During the Carter administration, in response to an energy crisis and hostile Iranian and Soviet Union relations, President Jimmy Carter announced the Carter Doctrine which declared that any interference with U. S. interests in the Persian Gulf would be considered an attack on U.S. vital interests.[37] This doctrine was later expanded by Ronald Reagan.[38] Since the 1990s, the oil market has been free of most regulations.[31]

Electrical Energy[edit]

The United States of America (USA) is the world's second largest producer and consumer of electricity.[39] It consumes about 20%[40] of the world's supply of electricity. This section provides a summary of the consumption and generation of the USA Electric industry. Based upon data mined from US DOE Energy Information Administration/Electric Power Annual 2012 files.[41] Data was obtained from the most recent DOE Energy Information Agency (EIA) files. Consumption is detailed from the residential, commercial, industrial, and other user communities. Generation is detailed for the major fuel sources of coal, natural gas, nuclear, petroleum, hydro and the other renewables of wind, wood, other biomass, geothermal and solar. Changes to the electrical energy fuel mix and other trends are identified. Progress in wind and solar contributions to the energy mix are addressed. Expected changes in the generation environment during the next 5 years are discussed.


US Electric Energy Consumption by Consumer Communities

Total electrical energy consumption[42] in 2012 was 4,095 Billion kWh (B kWh). 126.8 Million residential customers[43] used 1,374.5 B kWh - 33.6% of USA’s 2012 load. 17.7 Million commercial customers used 1,327.1 B kWh - 32.4%. 732K Industrial customers used 985.7 B kWh - 24% and 83 Transportation customers used 7.3 B kWh -0.2%. 400.4 B kWh or 9.8% were system[44] usage (138 B kWh) and system loses and unaccounted loads (262.4 B kWh). Average residential cost/kWh was $.1188 with a monthly usage of about 903 kWh for a cost of $107.29/month. In Hawaii the cost/kWh was $.3734 resulting in a monthly bill for 903 kWh of $337.22. In Louisiana the cost/kWh was $.0837 resulting in a monthly bill of $75.59 for 903 kWh's. Per capita consumption from the electrical grid in 2012 was 13,047 kWh down 6% from the 2007 high.

Total Consumption in the peak year of 2007 was 4,184.5 B kWh up from 3,836 in 2000. Percentages for each consumer type is shown in the following graph.

A profile of the electric energy consumption.[45] for 2012 is shown in the following graph. Deviations from the monthly average of 341.25 G Kwhs for each month is shown. The April minimum of 298.7 G Kwhs to the July peak of 419.5 G Kwhs shows the range of consumption variations.

Electric Energy Consumption - Monthly Deviations from Average.jpg

The following table identifies those states which must import electrical energy from neighboring states to meet their consumption needs. Each states total electric generation for 2012 is compared with the states consumption and its share of the system loses and the difference between the generated electric energy and its total consumption usage (including its share of the system loses) is the amount of energy it imports. For Hawaii (HI) total consumption equals generated energy . For the other states multiplying their direct consumption by 1.103492016 (4126932717/3739884527) results in USA generation (including net imports) being equal to USA total consumption.

States Not Generating Enough Electric Energy (Mwh) to Meet Their Consumption in 2012
Retail Sales (Mwh) Total Usage (Mwh) Mwh's % 2012 % Last year
IN105,173,425116,576,839114,695,7291,881,1101.8%EXP 4.4%
KS40,293,47644,662,29144,424,691237,6000.6%EXP 0.8%
RI7,708,3348,544,1098,309,036235,0733%EXP 2.2%


Electricity production by source.
  coal, oil, natural gas
  Other renewables
Electricity sources for the U.S. - 2012

USA’s 1,168 Gigawatt power infrastructure produced 4,047.76 Billion kWhs (B kWhs) in 2012. USA imports minus exports was 47.26 B kWhs for a total of 4,095 B kWh of electrical energy for US use. Electrical energy generated from Coal was 1,514.04 B kWhs (37%); Natural and other Gases, 1,237.79 B kWhs (30.2%); Nuclear, 769.3 B kWhs (18.8%); Hydro, 276.2 B kWhs (6.8%); Renewables (other than Hydro), 218.3 B kWhs (4.7%); Imports less exports, 47.3 B kWh (1.2%); Petroleum, 23.2 B kWhs (0.6%); and Misc(including pumped storage) 8.8 B kWhs (0.2%). USA’s renewable fuels (Hydro reported separately) are Wind, 140.8 B kWhs (3.45%); Wood, 37.8 B kWh (0.9%); other Biomass, 19.8 B kWhs (0.5% ); Geothermal, 15.6 B kWhs (0.38%) and Solar, 4.3 B kWhs (0.11%). The following tables summarize the electrical energy generated by fuel source for the USA. Data from Electric Power Annual 2012[46] and the state data summary [47] was used. Changes in each fuels contribution from 2000 to 2010 are highlighted.

Electrical Production in the United States for 2012[48][49]
Power SourcePlantsPower Capacity (GW)Summer Capacity (GW)% of Summer CapacityCapacity factorAnnual Energy (billion kWh) % of annual production
Nat Gas1,758488.2424.339.920.3331,237.7930.23
Total U.S.6,99711681,0631000.444,048
Electric Generation (%) by Fuel Type
Note: The number of facilities is counted, not the number of wind turbines or number of nuclear reactors.
Electrical Production by Renewables in 2012
Power SourceUnits in OperationPower Capacity (GW)Summer Capacity (GW)% of Summer CapacityCapacity FactorAnnual Energy
(billion kWh)
 % of annual
Note: Solar does not include distributed generation, such as rooftop solar panels.
US Electric Generation (%) by Renewable Source
Yearly Electric Energy (B kWh (or Twh) per year) by Fuel Source
YearFossil FuelNuclearRenewableMiscTotal
  1. Gas includes natural gas and other gases.
  2. Solar includes photovoltaics and thermal.
  3. Misc includes misc generation, pumped storage, and net imports.
  4. Bio other includes waste, landfill gas, and other.
  5. Hydro excludes pumped storage (not an energy source, used by all sources, other than hydro).
  6. Total includes net imports.

Using the data from the US DOE Energy Information Administration/Electric Power Annual 2012 files[41] Data was obtained from the most recent DOE Energy Information Agency (EIA) full year files.[50]

The following table identifies those states which generate more electrical energy than they need to meet their consumption needs. They supply those that need additional energy. Each states total electric generation for 2012 is compared with the states consumption and its share of the system loses and the difference between the generated electric energy and its total consumption (including its share of the system loses) is the amount of energy it exports. For Hawaii (HI) total consumption equals generated energy . For the other states multiplying their direct consumption by 1.103492016 (4126932717/3739884527) results in USA generation (including net imports) being equal to USA total consumption usage. State export is determined by subtracting the state's total consumption from its generation.

States with excess Electric Generation (Mwh) for use by others in 2012
Retail Sales (Mwh) Total Usage (Mwh) Mwh's % 2012 % Last year
MS54,584,29548,387,67553634102950,1931.74%IMP 5.8%
USA Net Imports47,261,419

These graphs summarize the electrical energy generated by fuel source for the USA. Data from Electric Power Annual 2012[46] state data summary[47] was also used. The following provides each states electrical energy generation by fuel source as a percentage (%)of its total electric generation. 2012 Electrical Generation by Fuel.gif

The following provides each states renewable energy generation by fuel source as a percentage(%) of its total renewable generation.



In 2012 USA’s electrical energy usage was 5% more than in 2002. It was 2.2% less than the peak in 2007. It was 1% less than in 2011. Per capita consumption has decreased about 6% since its peak in 2007 and every year since has shown a decrease in individual consumption. Conservation efforts are helping. At least, for the next decade, coal, natural gas, and nuclear will remain the top three fuels for electric energy generation in the USA. Coal will continuously decrease its contribution with natural gas increasing its contribution. Nuclear will have some downs (decommissionings) and ups (new online plants) but probably remain about constant. Hydro will maintain. Petroleum will continue to decrease in importance. Wind and solar will continue to grow in importance; their combined usage was 4.48% in Feb 2014 and should reach 5% by the latter half of 2014, because of very rapid adoption of solar since 2012, along with continued increases in wind output.[51]


Per capita energy use in the United States

From the beginning of the United States until 1973, total energy (including electrical) use increased by about 3%/year, while population increased an average of 2.2%/year. Per capita energy use from 1730 to 1870 was about 100 million Btu/person. In the 20th century this increased to 300 million (332 million Btu/person/year, 97 thousand kWh/person/year in 1981).[52] Due to efficiency improvements this could drop considerably.

For the next five years, using data mined from Electric Power Annual 2012 [53] the expected yearly changes to the US power generation portfolio are shown in the following chart.Planned Additions-Deletions to Generating Infrastructure.jpgUsing 2012 as a baseline, electric generating capability in 2017 by coal would be down 24.4 Gigawatts: Petroleum would be down 3.1 Gigawatts. Natural gas would be up 26.3 Gigawatts; solar would be up 10 Gigawatts; wind, +5.9 Gigawatts; Hydro, +0.6 Gigawatts; Wood, +0.6 Gigawatts; Other Bio, 0.4 Gigawatts; Geo, +0.2 Gigawatts and nuclear, 0.2 Gigawatts. Thus, in 2017, the total US electric generating infrastructure would be 1079.8 Gigawatts (+2%) up from 1063 Gigawatts in 2012. Fossil fuels would decrease by only 1.2 Gigawatts because of the major increase in natural gas. Renewables would increase by 17.7 Gigawatts (+11.4%) and nuclear would increase by 0.2 Gigawatts.

Using each fuel source capacity factor from 2012 and its yearly generating capacity would result in the expected electric energy output as shown in the following chart. Expected Electrical Energy Generation 2013-2017.jpg In 2017 coal would produce 34.11% of US electric energy. Natural gas would produce 32.16%. Nuclear, 18.86%; Hydro, 6.81%; Wind 3.79%; Wood, 1%; Bio, 0.52%; Solar, 0.44% ( a 300% increase from 2012) and Geo 0.42%. Other sources, including net imports would contribute 1.37%. Yearly contributions (%) by each fuel source are shown in the following bar chart.Expected Energy Output (G Kwh) 2013-2017.jpg

The amount of electrical energy (Gigawatt hours) produced is a function of the generating capacity (Gigawatts) and the capacity factor, associated with the fuel source. This is about 25-30% for wind power and about 15-20% for solar power. This means that for every 100 MW of wind power installed, on average it will generate from about 25 to 30 MW, depending on the location. For every 100 MW of solar power installed, it will generate an average of from about 15 to 20 MW, depending on the location, as well as other factors. A Nuclear plant would have a capacity factor of about 90%.

A concentrating solar array (CSP) with thermal storage can have a capacity factor of over 75%, and provide power 24 hours a day. The Bureau of Land Management has allocated over 97 million acres of land in the southwest for solar projects - enough for 4 million MW of CSP solar power, with 24-hour storage - more than enough to supply all of the energy used in the United States.[54][55]

Energy consumption of computers in the USA [edit]

See also: Green computing

Visible or embedded (i. e. hidden) computers are found everywhere: in all sectors listed in the above chapter, as well as in all subsectors listed in the column entitled Major uses in the above tables. In 1999, a study by Mark. P. Mills[56] of the Green Earth Society reported that computers consumed 13% of the entire US supply. Numerous researchers questioned Mills' methodology and it was later demonstrated that he was off by an order of magnitude; for example, Lawrence Berkeley Labs concluded that the figure was nearer three percent of US electricity use. Although the Mills study was inaccurate,[57][58][59] it helped drive the debate to the national level, and in 2006 the US Senate started a study of the energy consumption of Server farms.

Fossil-fuel equivalency[edit]

The total energy consumption reported above from the Annual Energy Review has been adjusted by a fossil-fuel equivalency factor in order to estimate how much oil would be required to supply all of the energy used. While there is 3,412 Btu per kWh, a factor of 10,460 Btu/kWh was used for nuclear and 9,760 Btu/kWh for renewable energy, for 2010, to reflect how much oil would be required. This inflates the reported total energy consumption, and roughly triples the apparent share from non-fossil fuel sources. As oil is less important, this adjustment may be removed, as is largely the case in other countries.[60][61]

International cooperation[edit]

President Barack Obama and China's President Hu Jintao announced on 2009-11-17 a far-reaching package of measures to strengthen cooperation between the United States and China on clean energy. The presidents began by establishing a U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center to facilitate joint research and development of renewable energy technologies by scientists from both countries. The center will be supported by $150 million in public and private funds over the next five years, split evenly between the partners. Initial research priorities will be developing better energy efficiency by way of things like electric vehicles.[citation needed]

The two countries will also leverage private sector resources to develop clean energy projects in China through the U.S.-China Energy Cooperation Program (ECP). More than 22 companies are founding members of the program. The ECP will include collaborative projects involving renewable energy, smart grids, electric vehicles, green buildings, combined heat and power and energy efficiency.[62]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Barr, Robert. "China surpasses US as top energy consumer". Associated Press. Retrieved 16 June 2012. 
  2. ^ World Per Capita Total Primary Energy Consumption,1980-2005 (MS Excel format)
  3. ^ World Resources Institute "Energy Consumption: Consumption per capita" (2001). Nations with higher per-capita consumption are: Qatar, Iceland, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Luxembourg and Canada. Except for Canada, these are small countries with a prominent energy-intensive industry such as oil refining or steelmaking.
  4. ^ See #Fossil-fuel equivalency - these figures are actually closer to 2.8% each.
  5. ^ US Dept. of Energy, "Annual Energy Report" (2010), Energy Flow diagram
  6. ^ Ristinen, Robert, A. Energy and the Environment. Malloy, 2006. Print.
  7. ^ Annual Coal Report
  8. ^ Energy Use per Capita
  9. ^ US Dept. of Energy, "Energy in the United States: 1635-2000"
  10. ^
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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]