Submitted by Taps Coogan on the 24th of May 2018 to The Sounding Line.
The following chart, from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, summarizes total energy consumption in the US in 2017, detailing how much of every energy source was used and for what purpose.
The unit used in the chart is ‘quads’ which refers to a quadrillion BTUs. To put one quad in perspective, it contains roughly the same amount of energy as 172.4 million barrels of oil, or the amount of oil the entire world produces in slightly less than two days.
The US used roughly 97 quad of energy in 2017 which it generated in the following ways:
|Quad of Energy||% of Total|
The largest source of energy in the US was oil (36.2% of the total), followed by natural gas (28%), and coal (14%). Together, fossil fuels represented 78.2% of all energy used in the US. Wind, solar, and geothermal combined only contributed 3.2% of total US energy consumption.
The US used roughly 37 quad of energy to produce electricity for the national grid (38% of total energy consumption). Coal was the largest source of energy for electricity (34% of the total), followed by natural gas (25.7%), and nuclear (22.7%). Wind, solar, and geothermal combined contributed 9.2% of the total.
|Quad Used for Electricity||% of Total|
Energy was used for four broad purposes: transportation, industrial, residential, and commercial. The breakdown of energy use by purpose is detailed in the table below:
|Quad Used by End Use||% of Total|
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has similar charts going back to 2010 (including for every state) and based on the data set from 2010, energy usage has changed quite a bit since then. The following chart details the growth/shrinkage in each energy source’s total contribution since 2010.
|Growth in Total Energy Use Since 2010|
While still small in its total contribution to US energy consumption, solar has seen nearly 500% growth since 2010. This strong growth is followed by wind (155%) and biomass (40%). Meanwhile, geothermal and nuclear power have seen essentially no growth while coal has declined by a stunning 33%.
Another interesting element of the graphic is what it calls ‘rejected energy.’ This is energy that is wasted by the various inefficiencies in our energy usages systems. This ‘wasted’ energy represents a whopping 68% of total energy usage, though much of that is likely thermodynamically unavoidable, and isn’t necessarily a sign of anything wasteful. It is unclear from the information provided how those figures were calculated for wind and solar derived energy.
One conclusion that can be drawn from the figures is that while wind and solar have grown significantly in recent years, they are nowhere near a level where a world without fossil fuels is viable.
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