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The United States is the largest energy consumer in terms of total use, using 100 quadrillion BTUs (105 exajoules, or 29 PWh) in 2005. This is three times the consumption by the United States in 1950.[1] The U.S. ranks seventh in energy consumption per-capita after Canada and a number of small countries.[2][3] The majority of this energy is derived from fossil fuels: in 2005, it was estimated that 40% of the nation's energy came from petroleum, 23% from coal, and 23% from natural gas. Nuclear power supplied 8.4% and renewable energy supplied 7.3%, which was mainly from hydroelectric dams although other renewables are included such as wind power, geothermal and solar energy.[4] Energy consumption has increased at a faster rate than energy production over the last fifty years in the U.S.(when they were roughly equal). This difference is now largely met through imports.[1]

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 335.9 million BTUs per person from 1980 to 2006. One explanation 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 72.4 million BTU's per person in 2006.

The development of renewable energy and energy efficiency marks "a new era of energy exploration" in the United States, according to President Barack Obama.[5]

Contents

History

US energy consumption, by source, 1850-2000. Vertical axis is in quadrillion BTU

From its founding until the late 1700s, 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. While coal consumption today is the highest it has ever been, it is now mostly 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 dramatically during this period, by approximately a factor of 50 between 1850 and 2000, energy use per capita increased only by a factor of 4.

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.[6] Oil's unique qualities for transportation fuels in terms of energy content, cost of production, and speed of refueling have made it difficult to supplant with technological alternatives developed so far.

Current consumption

U.S. Energy Flow - 2002. Note that the breakdown of useful and waste energy in each sector (yellow vs. Grey) is estimated arbitrarily and is not based on data.
USenergy2004.jpg

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 Name Description Major uses[7][8][9]
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
12% aviation
Residential Living 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)
Commercial Service-providing facilities and equipment (businesses, government, other institutions). 25% lighting
13% heating
11% cooling
6% refrigeration
6% water heating
6% ventilation
6% electronics

The breakdown of energy consumption by source is given here:

Fuel type 2004 US consumption in TW[10] 2004 World consumption in TW[11]
Oil 1.34 5.6
Gas 0.77 3.5
Coal 0.77 3.8
Hydroelectric 0.09 0.9
Nuclear 0.27 0.9
Geothermal, wind,
solar, wood
0.11 0.13
Total 3.35 15

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

Consumption Summary'[12]
Supply Sources Percent of Source Demand Sectors Percent of Sector
Petroleum
37.1%
71% Transportation
23% Industrial
5% Residential and Commercial
1% Electric Power
Transportation
27.8%
95% Petroleum
2% Natural Gas
3% Renewable Energy
Natural Gas
23.8%
3% Transportation
34% Industrial
34% Residential and Commercial
29% Electric Power
Industrial
20.6%
42% Petroleum
40% Natural Gas
9% Coal
10% Renewable Energy
Coal
22.5%
8% Industrial
<1% Residential and Commercial
91% Electric Power
Residential and Commercial
10.8%
16% Petroleum
76% Natural Gas
1% Coal
1% Renewable Energy
Renewable Energy
7.3%
11% Transportation
28% Industrial
10% Residential and Commercial
51% Electric Power
Electric Power
40.1%
1% Petroleum
17% Natural Gas
51% Coal
9% Renewable Energy
21% Nuclear Electric Power
Nuclear Electric Power
8.5%
100% Electric Power

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

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Regional variation

US household energy usage.png
Average annual residential electricity usage by city, 2000-2005. Measured in Kilowatt hours per customer.[13]

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. Most 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.

Another reason for regional differences is the variety of building codes and environmental regulations found at the local and state level. California has some of the strictest environmental laws and building codes in the country, which may contribute to the fact that its per-household energy consumption is lower than all other states except Hawaii.

Major U.S. cities also show significant variation in per capita energy consumption. In addition to differences in regional climates and variations in building code standards, factors affecting energy use in cities include population density and building design. Townhouses are more energy efficient than single-family homes because less heat, for example, is wasted per person.

Oil consumption

There have been economic and political problems associated with the country's past dependence on foreign supply. America's past consumption of petroleum has resulted in environmental problems as well.

U.S. oil consumption is approximately 21 million barrels/day, yet domestic production is only 6 million barrels per day (950,000 m3/d). Cost to import oil is approximately $630 billion dollars a year (at $115/barrel). While it costs the Arabian Peninsula just one U.S. dollar to extract a barrel of oil, the cost on the world market has varied up to $100/barrel in 2007 dollars. While U.S. oil usage increases by 2% per year, the economy has been growing at 3.3% per year. The Strategic Petroleum Reserve currently holds about 720 Mbbl of oil and is near capacity.

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.[14] This doctrine was expanded by Ronald Reagan.[15]

Today, many scholars and politicians call for the immediate incubation of long term energy solutions prior to a 'peak oil' scenario which would force the economy to grinding halt. Although additional drilling in areas such as continental shelf, the Gulf of Mexico, off the U.S. West Coast, Alaska, and the Great Lakes may stave off the inevitability of the problem, it would be only a temporary solution.

Electricity Production

Electricity production by source.      coal, oil, natural gas      hydroelectric      nuclear      Other renewables

That United States has and continues to get most of its electrical production from conventional thermal power plants. Most of these are coal; however, the 1990s and 2000s have seen a disproportionate increase in natural gas and other kinds of gas powered plants.

From 1992 to 2005 some 270,000 MWe (Megawatt electric) of new gas-fired plant were built, but only 14,000 MWe of new nuclear and coal-fired capacity came on line, mostly coal, with 2,315 MWe of that being nuclear.[16] Nuclear and coal are considerably more capital intensive when compared to gas, and the great shift to gas plant construction is often attributed to deregulation and other political and economic factors.

U.S. wind power capacity now exceeds 18,302 MW which is enough to serve 4.5 million average households.[17] Several solar thermal power stations, including the new 64 MW Nevada Solar One, have also been built. The largest of these solar thermal power stations is the SEGS group of plants in the Mojave Desert with a total generating capacity of 354 MW, making the system the largest solar plant of any kind in the world.[18]

In 2007, summer demand for electricity was 783 GW and 640 GW for winter. By 2017, North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) projects summer consumption to be 925GW for summer and 756 GW for winter.[19]

Electrical Production in the United States for 2006
Power Source Units in Operation Total Nameplate Capacity (MW) % of total Capacity Annual Production (billion kWh)  % of annual production
Petroleum Coke Fueled Boiler
31
1,754
0.16%
46.4
1.1%
Oil Fired Boiler
327
34,975
3.25%
7.8
0.2%
Nuclear Power
104
105,584
9.82%
787
19.4%
Natural Gas Fueled Boiler
776
97,632
9.08%
159
3.9%
Diesel Generators
4,514
8,563
0.8%
13.8
0.3%
Incinerators
96
2,671
0.25%
12.3
0.3%
Hydroelectric
4,138
96,988
9.02%
282
7.0%
Geothermal
215
3,170
0.29%
13.5
0.3%
Fuel Oil
13
956
0.09%
8.5
0.2%
Combustion Turbine Generators
2,882
155,227
14.4%
147
3.6%
Combined Cycle Natural Gas
1,686
216,269
20.1%
505
12.4%
Coal Fired Boilers
1,460
333,115
30.9%
1,995
49.1%
Biomass
270
6,256
0.58%
53.5
1.3%
Wind Power
341
11,603
1.08%
30.3
0.7%
Solar Energy
31
411
0.04%
2.1
0.1%

[20]

Nameplate Capacity Range by Generator Type
Generator Type 0-50MW 50-100MW 100-250MW 250-500MW 500-750MW 750-1,000MW 1000-1250MW 1250MW +
Petroleum Coke Fueled Boiler
24
1
4
2
0
0
0
0
Oil Fired Boiler
232
25
28
22
10
10
0
0
Nuclear Power
0
0
0
0
11
38
41
13
Natural Gas Fueled Boiler
411
99
146
75
30
14
1
0
Diesel Generators
4,513
1
0
0
0
0
0
0
Incinerators
80
16
0
0
0
0
0
0
Hydroelectric
3,559
342
204
27
3
3
0
0
Geothermal
190
17
8
0
0
0
0
0
Fuel Oil
10
1
0
2
0
0
0
0
Combustion Turbine Generators
1,659
839
384
0
0
0
0
0
Combined Cycle Natural Gas
451
290
796
149
0
0
0
0
Coal Fired Boilers
465
184
361
186
193
59
3
9
Biomass
234
19
2
0
1
0
0
0
Wind Power
267
55
23
6
5
0
0
0
Solar Energy
29
2
0
1
0
0
0
0

[20]

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 [21] 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[22][23][24], 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.

International Cooperation

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.[25]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b Ristinen, Robert, A. Energy and the Environment. Malloy, 2006. Print.
  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. ^ US Dept. of Energy, "Annual Energy Report" (2008), Energy Flow diagram
  5. ^ US Dept. of Energy, "President Obama Touts Clean Energy on Earth Day" (April 29, 2009)
  6. ^ US Dept. of Energy, "Energy in the United States: 1635-2000"
  7. ^ US Dept. of Energy, "Manufacturing Trend Data" (2002), Table 2b
  8. ^ US Dept. of Energy, "Annual Energy Outlook" (February 2006), Table A2
  9. ^ US Dept. of Energy, "Buildings Energy Data Book" (September 2006), sec. 1.2.3
  10. ^ Energy Information Administration (August 2005). "2004 U. S. Energy Consumption by Energy Source". http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/solar.renewables/page/trends/table1.html. Retrieved 2007-05-25.  
  11. ^ "World Consumption of Primary Energy by Energy Type and Selected Country Groups , 1980-2004" (XLS). Energy Information Administration. July 31, 2006. http://www.eia.doe.gov/pub/international/iealf/table18.xls. Retrieved 2007-01-20.  
  12. ^ US Dept. of Energy, "[ http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/aer/pdf/pecss_diagram.pdf U.S. Primary Energy Consumption by Source and Sector, 2008]" (2009)
  13. ^ New York City Mayor's Office of Sustainability (2007). "New York City's Climate Change Challenges through 2030" (PDF). http://www.nyc.gov/html/planyc2030/downloads/pdf/greenyc_climate-change.pdf. Retrieved 2007-02-28.  
  14. ^ Carter, Jimmy (1980-01-23), Third State of the Union Address, Jimmy Carter Presidential Library, http://www.jimmycarterlibrary.org/documents/speeches/su80jec.phtml, retrieved 2008-07-27  
  15. ^ Dumbrell, John (1996), American Foreign Policy: Carter to Clinton, MacMillan, p. 81, http://books.google.com/books?id=nJESOWPgz14C&dq=american+foreign+policy+carter+to+clinton&pg=PP1&ots=vYrRh7dUFd&sig=EjWQVGRiow5djTIPDuUvGaj2vXQ&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=1&ct=result, retrieved 2008-07-27  
  16. ^ Nuclear Power in USA
  17. ^ Installed U.S. Wind Power Capacity Surged 45% in 2007
  18. ^ SEGS I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII & IX
  19. ^ Load Forecasting Working Group of the Reliability Assessment Subcommittee (2008-08) (pdf). 2008-2017 Regional and National Peak Demand and Energy Forecasts Bandwidths. North American Electric Reliability Corporation. pp. 17. http://www.nerc.com/docs/pc/lfwg/NERC_2008-2017_Regional_Bandwidths.pdf. Retrieved 2008-12-15.  
  20. ^ a b US Department of Energy Administration 2006 National Energy Survey
  21. ^ Mills, M.P. (1999). The Internet Begins with Coal. Green Earth Society, USA.  
  22. ^ Allan Chen, "Research finds computer-related energy use to be overestimated" (February 2001)
  23. ^ Brian Hayes, "The computer and the dynamo" (September 2001)
  24. ^ Information Technology and Resource Use, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
  25. ^ http://apps1.eere.energy.gov/news/news_detail.cfm/news_id=15630

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