Fossil fuels still dominate US energy consumption despite recent market share decline

Wind and solar among fastest-growing energy sources in the projection, surpassing biomass and nuclear

fossil

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Monthly Energy Review

 According to the US Energy Information Administration, three fossil fuels—petroleum, natural gas, and coal—have provided more than 80 per cent of total US energy consumption for more than 100 years.

In 2015, fossil fuels still made up 81.5 per cent of total US energy consumption, though it was the lowest fossil fuel share in the past century.

In EIA’s Annual Energy Outlook 2016 Reference case projections, which reflect current laws and policies, that percentage declines to 76.6 per cent by 2040.

Policy changes or technology breakthroughs that go beyond the trend improvements included in the Reference case could significantly change that projection.

In 2015, the renewable share of energy consumption in the US was its largest since the 1930s at nearly 10 per cent. The greatest growth in renewables over the past decade has been in solar and wind electricity generation.

Liquid biofuels have also increased in recent years, contributing to the growing renewable share of total energy consumption.

The most significant decline in recent years has been coal: U.S. coal consumption fell 13 per cent in 2015, the highest annual percentage decrease of any fossil fuel in the past 50 years.

The only similar declines were in 2009 and 2012, when coal fell 12 per cent below the level in the previous year.

In EIA’s Reference case projection, petroleum consumption remains similar to current levels through 2040, as fuel economy improvements and other changes in the transportation sector offset growth in population and travel.

Coal consumption continues to decline, especially in the electric power sector. Natural gas consumption increases in the industrial sector and the electric power sector.

fossil fuel

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Monthly Energy Review, Annual Energy Outlook 2016

Some electric fuels, such as nuclear and hydroelectric, remain relatively flat in the Reference case, with little change in capacity or generation through 2040.

Biomass, which includes wood as well as liquid biofuels like ethanol and biodiesel, remain relatively flat, as wood use declines and biofuel use increases slightly.

In contrast, wind and solar are among the fastest-growing energy sources in the projection, ultimately surpassing biomass and nuclear, and nearly exceeding coal consumption in the Reference case projection by 2040.

Posted in: Energy News

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