Energy in the United States

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Pumping rig at the Sergeant Major well in McKenzie County, North Dakota Sergeant Major oil well - Evanson Place - Arnegard North Dakota - 2013-07-04 (9287570005).jpg
Pumping rig at the Sergeant Major well in McKenzie County, North Dakota

The United States was the second-largest energy consumer in 2010 after China. [2] The country is ranked seventh in energy consumption per capita after Canada and several small nations. [3] [4] Not included is the significant amount of energy used overseas in the production of retail and industrial goods consumed in the United States.

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the most populous city is New York City. Most of the country is located contiguously in North America between Canada and Mexico.

Most of this energy comes from fossil fuels: in 2010, data showed that 25% of the nation's energy originates from petroleum, 22% from coal, and 22% from natural gas. Nuclear energy supplied 8.4% and renewable energy supplied 8%, [5] mainly from hydroelectric dams and biomass; however, this also includes other renewable sources like wind, geothermal, and solar. [6] As of 2006, energy consumption had increased more rapidly than domestic energy production over the last 50 years in the nation (when they were roughly equal). This difference was largely met through imports. [7]

Fossil fuel fuel formed by natural processes such as anaerobic decomposition of buried dead organisms

A fossil fuel is a fuel formed by natural processes, such as anaerobic decomposition of buried dead organisms, containing energy originating in ancient photosynthesis. Such organisms and their resulting fossil fuels typically have an age of millions of years, and sometimes more than 650 million years. Fossil fuels contain high percentages of carbon and include petroleum, coal, and natural gas. Commonly used derivatives of fossil fuels include kerosene and propane. Fossil fuels range from volatile materials with low carbon-to-hydrogen ratios, to liquids, to nonvolatile materials composed of almost pure carbon, like anthracite coal. Methane can be found in hydrocarbon fields either alone, associated with oil, or in the form of methane clathrates.

Petroleum Naturally occurring hydrocarbon liquid found underground

Petroleum is a naturally occurring, yellowish-black liquid found in geological formations beneath the Earth's surface. It is commonly refined into various types of fuels. Components of petroleum are separated using a technique called fractional distillation, i.e. separation of a liquid mixture into fractions differing in boiling point by means of distillation, typically using a fractionating column.

Coal A combustible sedimentary rock composed primarily of carbon

Coal is a combustible black or brownish-black sedimentary rock, formed as rock strata called coal seams. Coal is mostly carbon with variable amounts of other elements; chiefly hydrogen, sulfur, oxygen, and nitrogen. Coal is formed if dead plant matter decays into peat and over millions of years the heat and pressure of deep burial converts the peat into coal. Vast deposits of coal originates in former wetlands—called coal forests—that covered much of the Earth's tropical land areas during the late Carboniferous (Pennsylvanian) and Permian times.

According to the Energy Information Administration's statistics, the per-capita energy consumption in the US has been somewhat consistent from the 1970s to the present time. The average was about 334 million British thermal unit s [BTU] (352  GJ ) per person from 1980 to 2010. One explanation suggested that the energy required to increase the nation's 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 increased from 63.7 to 75 million BTU (67.2 to 79.1 GJ) per person between 1980 and 2008.

Energy Information Administration One of the principal agencies of the U.S. Federal Statistical System and part of the U.S. Department of Energy

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) is a principal agency of the U.S. Federal Statistical System responsible for collecting, analyzing, and disseminating energy information to promote sound policymaking, efficient markets, and public understanding of energy and its interaction with the economy and the environment. EIA programs cover data on coal, petroleum, natural gas, electric, renewable and nuclear energy. EIA is part of the U.S. Department of Energy.

The British thermal unit is a traditional unit of heat; it is defined as the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. It is also part of the United States customary units. Its counterpart in the metric system is the calorie, which is defined as the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one gram of water by one degree Celsius. Heat is now known to be equivalent to energy, for which the SI unit is the joule; one BTU is about 1055 joules. While units of heat are often supplanted by energy units in scientific work, they are still used in many fields. As examples, in the United States the price of natural gas is quoted in dollars per million BTUs.

The joule is a derived unit of energy in the International System of Units. It is equal to the energy transferred to an object when a force of one newton acts on that object in the direction of the force's motion through a distance of one metre. It is also the energy dissipated as heat when an electric current of one ampere passes through a resistance of one ohm for one second. It is named after the English physicist James Prescott Joule (1818–1889).


US energy consumption by source, 1776-2016. Vertical axis is in quadrillion BTU. History of energy consumption in the United States.svg
US energy consumption by source, 17762016. Vertical axis is in quadrillion BTU.

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.[ citation needed ]

Wood fuel

Wood fuel is a fuel, such as firewood, charcoal, chips, sheets, pellets, and sawdust. The particular form used depends upon factors such as source, quantity, quality and application. In many areas, wood is the most easily available form of fuel, requiring no tools in the case of picking up dead wood, or few tools, although as in any industry, specialized tools, such as skidders and hydraulic wood splitters, have been developed to mechanize production. Sawmill waste and construction industry by-products also include various forms of lumber tailings. The discovery of how to make fire for the purpose of burning wood is regarded as one of humanity's most important advances. The use of wood as a fuel source for heating is much older than civilization and is assumed to have been used by Neanderthals. Today, burning of wood is the largest use of energy derived from a solid fuel biomass. Wood fuel can be used for cooking and heating, and occasionally for fueling steam engines and steam turbines that generate electricity. Wood may be used indoors in a furnace, stove, or fireplace, or outdoors in furnace, campfire, or bonfire.

Primary energy (PE) is an energy form found in nature that has not been subjected to any human engineered conversion process. It is energy contained in raw fuels, and other forms of energy received as input to a system. Primary energy can be non-renewable or renewable.

Coal remained dominant for the next seven decades, but by 1950, it was surpassed in turn by both petroleum and natural gas. The 1973 oil embargo precipitated an energy crisis in the United States. [8] [9] In 2007, coal consumption was the highest it has ever been, with it mostly being used to generate electricity. [10] Natural gas has replaced coal as the preferred source of heating in homes, businesses, and industrial furnaces, which burns cleaner and is easier to transport.[ citation needed ]

The 1973 oil crisis began in October 1973 when the members of the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries proclaimed an oil embargo. The embargo was targeted at nations perceived as supporting Israel during the Yom Kippur War. The initial nations targeted were Canada, Japan, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States with the embargo also later extended to Portugal, Rhodesia and South Africa. By the end of the embargo in March 1974, the price of oil had risen nearly 400%, from US$3 per barrel to nearly $12 globally; US prices were significantly higher. The embargo caused an oil crisis, or "shock", with many short- and long-term effects on global politics and the global economy. It was later called the "first oil shock", followed by the 1979 oil crisis, termed the "second oil shock."

Electricity generation process of generating electrical power

Electricity generation is the process of generating electric power from sources of primary energy. For electric utilities in the electric power industry, it is the first stage in the delivery of electricity to end users, the other stages being transmission, distribution, energy storage and recovery, using the pumped-storage method.

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.[ citation needed ] As of 2009, United States per-capita energy use had declined to 7.075 tonnes of oil equivalent (296.2 GJ), 12% less than 2000, and in 2010, to levels not seen since the 1960s. [11] 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 United States 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 US is in the form of its derived transportation fuels. [12] 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.[ citation needed ]

In June 2010, the American Energy Innovation Council, a group which includes Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft; Jeffrey R. Immelt, chief executive of General Electric; and John Doerr, [13] has urged the government to more than triple spending on energy research and developmentto $16 billion a year. Gates endorsed the administration's goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80% 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.[ citation needed ] 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 research and development.[ citation needed ] They advocate for a jump in spending on basic energy research. [14]


Energy in the United States [15]
Prim. energy
CO2 emission
Change 200420105.5%-4.7%5.1%-25.3%5.7%-7.4%
Mtoe = 41,868 TJ>, Prim. energy includes energy losses that are 2/3 for nuclear power [16]

2012R = CO2 calculation criteria changed, numbers updated

US primary energy consumption by source and sector (2017) [17]
Supply sourcesPercent of sourceDemand sectorsPercent of sector
72% Transportation
23% Industrial
5% Residential and commercial
1% Electric power
92% Petroleum
3% Natural gas
5% Renewable energy
Natural gas
3% Transportation
35% Industrial
28% Residential and commercial
34% Electric power
38% Petroleum
45% Natural gas
5% Coal
12% Renewable energy
9% Industrial
<1% Residential and commercial
91% Electric power
Residential and commercial
16% Petroleum
76% Natural gas
<1% Coal
8% Renewable energy
Renewable energy
13% Transportation
23% Industrial
7% Residential and commercial
57% Electric power
Electric power
1% Petroleum
26% Natural gas
34% Coal
17% Renewable energy
23% Nuclear electric power
Nuclear electric power
100% Electric power

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

Primary energy consumption

US energy flow, 2017. A quad is 10 BTU, or 1.055 x 10 joules (1.055 EJ). Note the breakdown of useful and waste energy in each sector (dark vs. light grey) due to the nature of heat engines, which cannot convert all thermal energy into useful work and consequently lose a portion of their heat to the environment. Energy Flow US 2017.png
US energy flow, 2017. A quad is 10 BTU, or 1.055 × 10 joules (1.055 EJ). Note the breakdown of useful and waste energy in each sector (dark vs. light grey) due to the nature of heat engines, which cannot convert all thermal energy into useful work and consequently lose a portion of their heat to the environment.
US primary energy consumption by source and sector, 2017. From the US Energy Information Administration (Department of Energy). U.S. primary energy consumption by source and sector, 2017.png
US primary energy consumption by source and sector, 2017. From the US Energy Information Administration (Department of Energy).

Primary energy use in the United States was 90,558 petajoules [PJ] (25,155  TWh ) or about 294,480 megajoule s [MJ] (81,800  kWh ) per person in 2009. Primary energy use was 3,960 PJ (1,100 TWh) less in the United States than in China in 2009. The share of energy import was 26% of the primary energy use. The energy import declined about 22% and the annual CO2 emissions about 10% in 2009 compared to 2004. [18]

Total primary energy consumption (Mtoe) [19]
2001200220032004200520062007200820092010201120102011CAGR 2001-11

Energy consumption by source

Energy consumption by source in 2006 (PJ)
Fuel typeUnited States [20] World [21]
Geothermal, wind,
solar, wood, waste


Oil is one of the largest sources of energy in the United States. The United States influences world oil reserves for both growth and development. [22] As the 20th century progressed, petroleum gained increasing importance by providing heating and electricity to the commercial and industrial sectors. Oil was also used in transportation; first for railroads and later for motor vehicles. [23]

As automobiles became more affordable, demand for oil quickly rose. Since the rise of the automobile industry, oil price, demand, and production have all increased as well. Between 1900 and 1980, fuel was directly correlated with Gross National Product (GNP). Furthermore, oil shocks have often coincided with recessions, and the government has responded to oil shocks in several ways. [24] In the 1920s, oil prices were peaking and many commentators believed that oil supplies were running out. Congress was confronted by requests to augment supplies, so a generous depletion allowance was enacted for producers in 1926, which increased investment returns substantially. This change induced additional exploration activity, and subsequently the discovery of large new oil reservoirs. [25]

In the next decade the situation was reversed with prices low and dropping. This resulted in demands for more "orderly" competition and set minimum oil prices. Rather than repealing the previous policies enacted in the 1920s, Congress enacted a price-support system. Similar cycles have occurred in the 1950s and 1970s. [25]


Natural gas production, 1900-2013 US Natural gas prodxn 1900-2013.tiff
Natural gas production, 19002013

Natural gas was the largest source of energy production in the United States in 2016, representing 33% of all energy produced in the country. [26] Natural gas has been the largest source of electrical generation in the United States since July 2015.

The United States has been the world's largest producer of natural gas since 2009, when it surpassed Russia. US natural gas production achieved new record highs for each year from 2011 through 2015. Marketed natural gas production in 2015 was 28.8 trillion cubic feet (820 billion cubic metres), a 5.4% increase over 2014, and a 52% increase over the production of 18.9 trillion cu ft (540 billion m3) per day in 2005. [27]

Because of the greater supply, consumer prices for natural gas are significantly lower in the United States than in Europe and Japan. [28] The low price of natural gas, together with its smaller carbon footprint compared to coal, has encouraged a rapid growth in electricity generated from natural gas.

Between 2005 and 2014, US production of natural gas liquids (NGLs) increased 70%, from 1.74 million barrels of oil equivalent (10.6 PJ) per day in 2005 to 2.96 million barrels of oil equivalent (18.1 PJ) per day in 2014. The US has been the world's leading producer of natural gas liquids since 2010, when US NGL production passed that of Saudi Arabia.

Although the United States leads the world in natural gas production, it is only fifth in proved reserves of natural gas, behind Russia, Iran, Qatar, and Turkmenistan.


Generation of electricity is the largest user of coal, although its use is in decline. About 50% of electric power was produced by coal in 2005, declining to 30% in 2016. [29] :1 Electric utilities buy more than 90% of the coal consumed in the United States. [30]

The United States is a net exporter of coal. Coal exports, for which Europe is the largest customer, peaked in 2012 and have declined since. In 2015, the US exported 7.0% of mined coal. [31]

Coal has been used to generate electricity in the United States since an Edison plant was built in New York City in 1882. [32] The first AC power station was opened by General Electric in Ehrenfeld, Pennsylvania in 1902, servicing the Webster Coal and Coke Company. [32] By the mid-20th century, coal had become the leading fuel for generating electricity in the US. The long, steady rise of coal-fired generation of electricity shifted to a decline after 2007. The decline has been linked to the increased availability of natural gas, decreased consumption, [33] renewable electricity, and more stringent environmental regulations. The Environmental Protection Agency has advanced restrictions on coal plants to counteract mercury pollution, smog, and global warming.



Other renewables

Final energy consumption

Consumption by sector

The US 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 nameDescriptionMajor uses [34] [35] [36]
IndustrialFacilities and equipment used for producing and processing goods.22% chemical production
16% petroleum refining
14% metal smelting/refining
TransportationVehicles which transport people/goods on ground, air, or water.61% gasoline fuel
21% diesel fuel
12% aviation
ResidentialLiving 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)
CommercialService-providing facilities and equipment (businesses, government, other institutions).25% lighting
13% heating
11% cooling
6% refrigeration
6% water heating
6% ventilation
6% electronics

Regional variation

Residential energy consumption per capita by state Residential-Energy-consumption.png
Residential energy consumption per capita by state
US household energy usage.png
Average annual residential electricity usage by city, 2000-2005. Measured in kWh per customer. Electricity use kwh per customer 2000-05.PNG
Average annual residential electricity usage by city, 20002005. Measured in kWh per customer.

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 (216 GJ) per year, [39] and the highest is Wyoming, at slightly over 1 billion BTU (1,100 GJ) per year. [40]

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 US EPA 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). [41]


Power plants map Power plants map.png
Power plants map

The United States is the world's second largest producer and consumer of electricity. [42] It consumes about 20% [43] of the world's electricity supply. This section provides a summary of the consumption and generation of the nation's electric industry, based on data mined from US DOE Energy Information Administration/Electric Power Annual 2017 files. [44] 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 contributing to the energy mix are addressed. Expected changes in the generation environment during the next 5 years are discussed.


Ten-year consumption by user community, 2007-2017 Ten Year Comsumption by User Community.jpg
Ten-year consumption by user community, 20072017
2017 electric energy consumption profile 2017 Electric Energy Consumption Profile.jpg
2017 electric energy consumption profile
Residential, commercial and industrial US customers Customers 2017.jpg
Residential, commercial and industrial US customers
US per-capita consumption US Per Capita Consumption of Electric Energy.jpg
US per-capita consumption
2017 residential consumption by state Average Residential Consumption by State 2017.jpg
2017 residential consumption by state

Electricity consumption data in this section is based upon data mined from US DOE Energy Information Administration/Electric Power Annual 2017 files [46] In 2017, the total US consumption of electricity was 4,090.6 terawatt-hours [TWh] (14,726 PJ). Consumption was essentially down from 2016 with a reduction of 45.5 TWh (164 PJ) or 1.0% drop. This is broken down as:

In addition to consumption from the electrical grid, the US consumers consumed an estimated additional 23.99 TWh (86.4 PJ) from small-scale solar systems. This will be included in the per-capita data below.

Electricity consumption per capita is based upon data mined from US DOE Energy Information Administration/Electric Power Annual 2017 files [50] Population [51] data is from Demographics of the United States. Per-capita consumption in 2017 is 12,632 kWh (45,480 MJ). This is down 229 kWh (820 MJ) from 2016, down 7.5% from a decade ago, and down 8.0% from its peak in 2007. The following table shows the yearly US per-capita consumption from 2013 to 2017.

Electricity per capita in the United States, 20132017
YearPopulation (Millions)Per-capita consumption (kWh)

A profile of the electric energy consumption [52] for 2017 is shown in the following graph. The February minimum of 295 TWh (1,060 PJ) to the July peak of 410 TWh (1,500 PJ) shows the monthly range of consumption variations.


Profile of electric energy by fuel source, 2007-2017 Ten Electric Generation Profile 2018.jpg
Profile of electric energy by fuel source, 20072017

The United States has an installed summer electricity generation capacity of 1,072.46 GW in 2017, down 1.8 GW from 2016. [53] The US electricity generation was 4,034.3 TWh (14,523 PJ) in 2017. [54] The US's net imports were 56.31 TWh (202.7 PJ), for a total of 4,090.6 TWh (14,726 PJ) of electrical energy use. [55] Electrical energy generated from coal was 1,205.84 TWh or 4,341.0 PJ (29.48%); natural and other gases, 1,3908.89 TWh (32.0%); nuclear, 804.95 TWh or 2,897.8 PJ (19.68%); hydro, 300.33 TWh or 1,081.2 PJ (7.34%); Renewables (other than hydro), 386.28 TWh or 1,390.6 PJ (9.45%); imports less exports, 56.31 TWh or 202.7 PJ (1.38%); petroleum, 21.39 TWh or 77.0 PJ (0.52%); and miscellaneous (including pumped storage), 6.59 TWh or 23.7 PJ (0.16%). The US's renewable sources (hydro reported separately) are wind, 254.30 TWh or 915.5 PJ (6.22%); wood, 41.15 TWh or 148.1 PJ (1.01%); other biomass, 21.61 TWh or 77.8 PJ (0.53% ); geothermal, 15.93 TWh or 57.3 PJ (0.39%) and solar, 53.29 TWh or 191.8 PJ (1.3%). [44] Small-scale solar is estimated to have produced an additional 23.99 TWh (86.4 PJ). Natural gas electricity generation exceeded generation from coal for the first time in 2016 and continued in 2017.

The following tables summarize the electrical energy generated by fuel source for the United States. Data from Electric Power Annual 2017 [44] was used throughout this section.

Electricity generation in the United States in 2017 [56] [57]
Power sourceGeneratorsSummer capacity (GW)% of total capacity Capacity factor Annual energy (TWh)% of total US
Natural gas5,973458.3942.740.3261308.8932.00
Other renewables6,600131.0112.220.337386.289.44
Net imports56.311.38
US electric energy renewables, 2007-2017 Ten Year Generation Renewables 2018.jpg
US electric energy renewables, 20072017
Electric production by renewables in 2017 [58]
Power sourceSummer capacity (GW)% of renewable capacity% of total capacity Capacity factor Total generation (TWh)% of renewable energy% of total

Note: Biomass includes wood and wood derived fuel, landfill gas, biogenic municipal solid waste, and other waste biomass.

Electricity generation by source

US Electricity by type.png 2017 Profile of US Total Electric Energy Generation.jpg 2018 & 2017 Profile of US Total Electric Energy Generation.jpg
Electricity generation by source (TWh per year) [54] [59]
YearFossil fuelNuclearRenewableMisc5Total6
Proportion 2018727.15%0.58%35.06%62.79%19.11%6.91%0.40%1.58%6.51%0.98%0.51%16.88%1.21%100.0%
Proportion 201729.48%0.52%32.00%62.00%19.68%7.34%0.39%1.30%6.22%1.01%0.53%16.79%1.54%100.0%
Proportion 201629.95%0.59%33.63%64.16%19.47%6.47%0.38%0.87%5.49%0.99%0.53%14.73%1.63%100.0%
Proportion 201532.63%0.68%32.49%65.81%19.24%6.01%0.38%0.60%4.6%01.01%0.52%13.13%1.82%100.0%
Proportion 201044.5%0.9%24.1%69.5%19.4%6.3%0.37%0.029%2.3%0.9%0.5%10.3%0.8%100.0%
Proportion 200051.3%2.9%16.0%70.2%19.7%7.2%0.37%0.013%0.15%1.0%0.6%9.3%0.9%100.0%

Notes: 1 Gas includes natural gas and other gases. 2 Hydro excludes pumped storage (not an energy source, used by all sources, other than hydro). 3 Solar includes photovoltaics and thermal. 4 Bio other includes waste, landfill gas, and other. 5 Misc. includes misc. generation, pumped storage, and net imports. 6 Total includes net imports. 7 2018 data is from Electric Power Monthly and is preliminary. [59]


State electric characteristics

Individual states have very diverse electric generation systems, and their new initiatives to expand their generation base are equally diverse. Coupled with consumption disparages, it leads to a mix of "have" and "have not" electric energy states. Using the data from the US DOE Energy Information Administration/Electric Power Annual 2017 files. [60] Data was obtained from the most recent DOE Energy Information Agency (EIA) full year files. [61] Full use of the excellent EIA data browser [62] permits easy access to the plethora of data available.

State electric generation

Top ten states by fuel source

Importing states

The following table, derived from data mined from Electric Power Annual [63] [64] , identifies those states which must import electrical energy from neighboring states to meet their consumption needs. Each state's total electric generation for 2017 is compared with the state's consumption, and its share of the system loss and the difference between the generated electric energy and its total consumption (including its share of the system loss) is the amount of energy it imports. For Hawaii, total consumption equals generated energy. For the other states, multiplying their direct consumption by 1.098744069 (4080770384/3714031773), results in the US's supply (including net imports) being equal to its total consumption.

2017 states importing electricity IMPORT States.jpg
2017 states importing electricity
Net-importer states in 2017 [63] [64]
StateConsumptionGenerationState imports
Retail sales (MWh) Total usage (MWh) MWh% 2017% 2016Change
CA 257,267,937282671620206,146,3927652522837.12%30.27%
OH 146,643,831161124040119,552,1404157190034.77%28.19%
VA 111,529,73212254263290,417,3513212528135.53%25.04%
MD 59,303,8856515979234,104,2393105555391.06%44.91%
TN 97,239,88510684174779,046,3972779535035.16%28.39%
GA 133,456,620146634670127,455,3761917929415.05%12.18%
FL 233,154,549256177178238,413,149177640297.45%8.09%
NC 131,421,319144398395128,468,2351593016012.40%11.52%
MN 67,152,5807378349958,748,8411503465825.59%18.72%
DC 10,916,4461199438066,8711192750917836.59%99.39%
IN 98,965,96810873827098,929,81898084529.91%10.77%
ID 23,793,7902614328617,396,024874726250.28%38.25%
KY 72,634,3877980660273,179,19666274069.06%2.09%
CO 54,830,1866024434253,844,006640033611.89%9.70%
NJ 73,382,9408062907075,644,51349845576.59%6.35%
DE 11,128,603122274877,495,976473151163.12%29.48%
VT 5,423,66259592162,141,3883817828178.29%68.50%
SD 12,313,6751352957710,935,719259385823.72%13.60%
LA 91,205,93510021198097,719,20724927732.55%6.25%*
NV 36,657,7864027752538,201,29420762315.43%0.10%*
ME 11,213,6741232095811,264,28010566789.38%8.55%
RI 7,384,67181138637,614,9414989226.55%20.66%
AK 6,185,79967966106,497,4662991444.60%5.92%
SUM 2,019,793,7232,219,235,2751,808,659,389410,575,886*=Export

Exporting states

The following table, derived from data mined from Electric Power Annual, [63] [64] identifies those states which generate more electrical energy than they need to meet their consumption needs. They supply those that need additional energy. Each state's total electric generation for 2017 is compared with the state's 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 losses) is the amount of energy it exports. For Hawaii, total consumption equals generated energy. For the other states, multiplying their direct consumption by 1.098744069 (4080770384/3714031773) results in the US's supply (including net imports) being equal to its total consumption usage. A state exported energy is determined by subtracting the state's total consumption from its generation.

2017 states exporting electricity EXPORT States.jpg
2017 states exporting electricity
Net-exporters states in 2017 [63] [64]
StateGenerationConsumptionState exports
Retail sales (MWh) Total usage (MWh) MWh% 2017% 2016Change
PA 213,639,299142,990,89615711039956,528,90026.46%25.69%
AL 139,964,25086,241,7309475758945,206,66132.30%31.86%
WV 73,357,08031,709,0193484009738,516,98352.51%53.55%
IL 183,591,377137,196,31015074363232,847,74517.89%17.25%
AZ 105,851,72177,646,2628531337020,538,35119.40%20.90%
ND 41,505,07420,140,4262212917419,375,90046.68%46.20%
WA 115,912,02891,948,17210102750914,884,51912.84%14.32%
TX 452,794,463401,880,37444156367711,230,7862.48%3.45%
AR 60,775,29846,085,9515063666510,138,63316.68%15.97%
OR 62,713,74750,043,816549853467,728,40112.32%13.48%
SC 93,080,94878,096,757858083497,272,5997.81%9.77%
OK 73,731,76460,492,128664653677,266,3979.86%13.99%
MS 59,727,63747,828,787525515967,176,04112.01%14.22%
NH 17,446,84110,787,261118524395,594,40232.07%37.81%
IA 57,909,56648,921,997537527544,156,8127.18%2.08%
UT 37,411,87630,589,021336095053,802,37110.16%12.97%
NE 35,407,04730,359,007333567792,050,2685.79%9.08%
MO 84,607,31276,461,41984011531595,7810.70%9.07%*
MI 112,313,501101,899,093111961024352,4770.31%2.4%*
HI 9,812,05093242019,812,05000.00%0.00%
NET IMP 56,314,000
SUM 2,281,923,0431,703,563,2511,871,347,158354,261,885*=Import

Renewable energy

Sources of total United States renewable energy, 2012 (US EIA) Sources of Total US Renewable Energy.png
Sources of total United States renewable energy, 2012 (US EIA)
The Shepherds Flat Wind Farm is an 845-megawatt wind farm in the US state of Oregon Shepherds Flat Wind Farm 2011.jpg
The Shepherds Flat Wind Farm is an 845-megawatt wind farm in the US state of Oregon

Renewable energy in the United States accounted for 13.2% of the domestically produced electricity in 2014, [65] and 11.2% of total energy generation. [66] As of 2014, more than 143,000 people work in the solar industry and 43 states deploy net metering, where energy utilities buy back excess energy generated by solar arrays. [67]

Renewable energy reached a major milestone in the first quarter of 2011, when it contributed 11.7% of total US energy production (2.245 quadrillion BTU or 2.369  EJ of energy), surpassing nuclear energy production (2.125 quadrillion BTU or 2.242 EJ). [68] 2011 was the first year since 1997 that renewables exceeded nuclear in total US energy production. [69]

Hydroelectric power is currently the largest producer of renewable energy in the US. It produced around 6.2% of the nation's total electricity in 2010 which was 60.2% of the total renewable energy in the US. [70] The United States is the fourth largest producer of hydroelectricity in the world after China, Canada, and Brazil. The Grand Coulee Dam is the 5th largest hydroelectric power station in the world.

US wind power's installed capacity now exceeds 65,000 MW and supplies 4% of the nation's electric power. [71] [72] Texas is firmly established as the leader in wind power development followed by Iowa and California. [73]

The United States has some of the largest solar farms in the world. Solar Star is a 579-megawatt (MWAC) farm near Rosamond, California. [74] The Desert Sunlight Solar Farm is a 550-megawatt solar power plant in Riverside County, California [75] and the Topaz Solar Farm, a 550 MW photovoltaic power plant, is in San Luis Obispo County, California. [76] The solar thermal SEGS group of plants in the Mojave Desert has a total generating capacity of 354 MW. [77]

The Geysers in Northern California is the largest complex of geothermal energy production in the world.

The development of renewable energy and efficient energy use marks "a new era of energy exploration" in the United States, according to President Barack Obama. [78] Studies suggest that if there is enough political will, it is feasible to supply the whole United States with 100% renewable energy by 2050. [79] [80]

In 2015, electrical energy usage in the United States was 1.6% more than in 2005 and 1% less than the peak in 2007. Per-capita consumption has decreased about 7% 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; their combined generation was 5.29% of US electric generation for 2015 or 5.20% of total US consumption.

Per-capita energy use in the United States United States per capita energy use 1650-2010.png
Per-capita energy use in the United States

From the beginning of the United States until 1973, total energy (including electrical) use increased by about 3% per year, while population increased an average of 2.2% per year. Per-capita energy use from 1730 to 1870 was about 100 million BTU (110 GJ) per person. In the 20th century this increased to around 300 million BTU or 320 GJ (332 million BTU or 350 GJ per person per year in 1981). [81]

In 2001, Vice President Dick Cheney said the US would need "at least 1,300 new power plants over the next 20 years." [82]

Efficiency improvements could cause energy use to drop considerably.

A concentrating solar array (CSP) with thermal storage has a practical capacity factor of 33% [83] and could provide power 24 hours a day. Prior to 2012, in six southwestern states (Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah) the US Bureau of Land Management (BLM) owned nearly 98 million acres or 400,000 square kilometres (an area larger than the state of Montana) that was open to proposals for solar power installations. To streamline consideration of applications, the BLM produced a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS). By the subsequent Record of Decision in October 2012, the BLM withdrew 78% of its land from possible solar development, leaving 19 million acres (77,000 km2) still open to applications for solar installations, an area nearly as large as South Carolina. Of the area left open to solar proposals, the BLM has identified 285,000 acres (115,000  ha ) in highly favorable areas it calls Solar Energy Zones. [84] In Spain, with natural gas backups, CSP has reached a capacity factor of 66%, with 75% being a theoretical maximum. [85] [ failed verification ]

See also

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Further reading