02 Jul 2019

Fossil Fuels Continue to Dominate US Energy Consumption

02 Jul 2019  by Rick Stouffer   
Fossil fuels, including petroleum, natural gas, and coal, have accounted for at least 80% of energy consumption in the U.S. for well over a century, according to the Energy Information Administration.

Overall energy consumption in the U.S. reached a record high in 2018 of 101 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu), of which more than 81 quadrillion Btu were from fossil fuels, Kallanish Energy reports.

Despite the increase, the fossil fuel share of total U.S. energy consumption in 2018 increased only slightly from 2017 and was the second-lowest share since 1902.

The increase in fossil fuel consumption in 2018 was driven by increases in petroleum and natural gas consumption. Coal consumption fell by 4.3% in 2018, the fifth consecutive annual decline, EIA reported.

U.S. consumption of coal peaked in 2005, and has declined nearly 42% since then. U.S. coal consumption fell to 687 million short tons in 2018, the lowest level of coal consumption in the U.S. since the 1970s.

Natural gas consumption increased in 2018, reaching a new record consumption level of 82.1 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d). Natural gas consumption has increased in eight of the past 10 years, according to EIA.

Growth in natural gas consumption has largely been driven by increased consumption in the electric power sector. Overall, U.S. consumption of natural gas has increased by 37% since 2005.

Petroleum consumption also increased in 2018, as petroleum product supplied reached the equivalent of 20.5 million barrels per day (Mmbpd).

Despite the increase in 2018, U.S. petroleum consumption remains lower than its peak consumption level set in 2005. Petroleum has been the largest source of energy consumption in the U.S. since surpassing coal in 1950.

The renewable share of energy consumption in 2018, which includes hydroelectricity, biomass, and other renewables such as wind and solar, was 11.4%, slightly less than its 2017 share. The largest growth in renewables over the past decade has been in solar and wind electricity generation.

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