Energy in the United States
The United States is the 2nd largest energy consumer in terms of total use in 2010. The U.S. ranks seventh in energy consumption per-capita after Canada and a number of small nations. 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 69% of the nation's energy came from petroleum, 69% from coal, and 69% from natural gas. Nuclear power supplied 8.4% and renewable energy supplied 8%, which was mainly from hydroelectric dams but also included other renewable sources such as wind power, geothermal and solar energy. 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.
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.
- 1 History
- 2 Current consumption
- 3 Oil consumption
- 4 Electrical Energy
- 5 Fossil-fuel equivalency
- 6 International cooperation
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 Further reading
- 10 External links
From its founding until the late 19th 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. 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, 12% less than 2000, and through 2010 (most recent available) is at levels not seen since 1960s usage levels. 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. 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, (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.
The US CO2 emissions have dropped precipitously through greater efficiency, and a sluggish economy since 2008.
|Energy in the United States|
|Change 2004-10||5.5 %||-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|
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.
Consumption by sector
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 Name||Description||Major uses|
|Industrial||Facilities and equipment used for producing and processing goods.||22% chemical production
16% petroleum refining
14% metal smelting/refining
|Transportation||Vehicles which transport people/goods on ground, air or water.||61% gasoline fuel
21% diesel fuel
|Residential||Living quarters for private households.||32% space heating
13% water heating
11% air conditioning
5% wet-clean (mostly clothes dryers)
|Commercial||Service-providing facilities and equipment (businesses, government, other institutions).||25% lighting
6% water heating
Consumption by source
The breakdown of energy consumption by source is given here:
|Fuel type||2006 US consumption in PWh||2006 World consumption in PWh|
solar, wood, waste
U.S, Primary Energy Consumption by Source and Sector in 2008 is tabled as following:
|Supply Sources||Percent of Source||Demand Sectors||Percent of Sector|
5% Residential and Commercial
1% Electric Power
2% Natural Gas
3% Renewable Energy
34% Residential and Commercial
29% Electric Power
40% Natural Gas
10% Renewable Energy
<1% Residential and Commercial
91% Electric Power
|Residential and Commercial
76% Natural Gas
1% Renewable Energy
10% Residential and Commercial
51% Electric Power
17% Natural Gas
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.
CAGR = Compound Annual Growth Rate Note: Total energy includes coal, gas, oil, electricity, heat and biomass.
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, and the highest is Wyoming, at slightly over 1 billion Btu/yr.
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).
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. In 1956 a Shell engineer, M. K. Hubbert, recognized that at some point this would end, publishing the theory of peak oil. In early 2012 it was estimated that the world was at or past peak production of conventional oil, and that out of the estimated 2 trillion barrels available, about half had been consumed. There are many sources of non-conventional oil, including oil extracted from ultra-deep off-shore wells, and Canadian bitumen sands. The issues relevant to peak of all oil supplies are how rapidly these complicated sources of oil can be extracted and what fraction of oil energy remains after energy is expended in the extraction.
During the first half of the 20th century, the United States produced a majority of oil consumed domestically, but U.S. production peaked in the late 1970s, and during the 1990s, the United States imported over 40% of its oil, peaking at over 60% in 2005. Recently, oil prices have risen, briefly, to as high as $145/barrel, leading to a search for alternate sources, and by 2012, less than half of US oil consumption was imported. The dominant consumption of oil is due to its being cheap and convenient. When both of these are removed, owing to lack of supply and concern for global warming, oil becomes unimportant. However, it is not possible to predict the time span to transition to renewable energy from oil. As supplies dwindle, it will be impossible to maintain production at the same level "until the well runs dry", and then abruptly stop. Hubbert envisioned a bell shaped curve. When we reach the other side of the peak, we can anticipate production, and therefore consumption to reduce each year, and be replaced by renewable energy. Oil markets have continued to seek alternatives, regardless of the price - worldwide it is estimated this will add $8 trillion to the cost of oil from 2010 to 2035. As prices are set by supply and demand, if we decrease the consumption of oil faster than production decreases, the price at the pump will decrease. If we decrease consumption slower, the price will increase. U.S. gasoline prices jumped from $1.37 to $2.37/gallon in 2005, most likely due to a temporary peak in the supply of oil - the inability of production (supply) to meet consumption (demand). Worldwide production temporarily peaked in 2005.
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. This doctrine was expanded by Ronald Reagan.
In the movie, Blood and Oil, Nation magazine correspondent Michael T. Klare says that the George W. Bush Administration extended the Carter Doctrine even further to the reaches of Africa through the creation of the United States African Command. He says this command is just there to protect African oil, and that there is a race for scarce oil resources as China and Russia follow the path of the United States's policy in the past by wanting oil for their developing economies.
The United States of America (USA) is the world's second largest producer and consumer of electricity. It consumes about 20% 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. 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.
Total electrical energy consumption in 2012 was 4,095 Billion kWh (B kWh). 126.8 Million residential customers 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 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. 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.
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.
|Retail Sales (Mwh)||Total Usage (Mwh)||Mwh's||% 2012||% Last year|
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 and the state data summary  was used. Changes in each fuels contribution from 2000 to 2010 are highlighted.
|Power Source||Plants||Power Capacity (GW)||Summer Capacity (GW)||% of Summer Capacity||Capacity factor||Annual Energy (billion kWh)||% of annual production|
- Note: The number of facilities is counted, not the number of wind turbines or number of nuclear reactors.
|Power Source||Units in Operation||Power Capacity (GW)||Summer Capacity (GW)||% of Summer Capacity||Capacity Factor||Annual Energy
| % of annual
- Note: Solar does not include distributed generation, such as rooftop solar panels.
- Gas includes natural gas and other gases.
- Solar includes photovoltaics and thermal.
- Misc includes misc generation, pumped storage, and net imports.
- Bio other includes waste, landfill gas, and other.
- Hydro excludes pumped storage (not an energy source, used by all sources, other than hydro).
- Total includes net imports.
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 substracting the state's total consumption from its generation.
|Retail Sales (Mwh)||Total Usage (Mwh)||Mwh's||% 2012||% Last year|
|USA Net Imports||47,261,419|
These graphs summarize the electrical energy generated by fuel source for the USA. Data from Electric Power Annual 2012 state data summary was also used. The following provides each states electrical energy generation by fuel source as a percentage (%)of its total electric generation.
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 but their combined contribution to U.S. energy output will be challenged to reach 5% by 2017.
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). Due to efficiency improvements this could drop considerably.
For the next five years, using data mined from Electric Power Annual 2012  the expected yearly changes to the US power generation portfolio are shown in the following chart.Using 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. 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.
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.
Energy consumption of computers in the USA 
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 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, 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.
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.
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 building energy efficiency and electric vehicles.
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.
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- Energy conservation in the United States
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- Energy security
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- List of countries by energy consumption and production
- List of countries by energy consumption per capita
- List of U.S. states by electricity production from renewable sources
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- Renewable energy in the United States
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- See #Fossil-fuel equivalency - these figures are actually closer to 2.8% each.
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