Fossil fuels account for largest share of energy production, consumption

by Jeff Della Rosa ([email protected]) 740 views 

Fossil fuels, or energy sources formed in the Earth’s crust from decayed organic material, including petroleum, natural gas and coal, continue to comprise the largest share of energy production and consumption in the United States, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

In 2019, 80% of domestic energy production was from fossil fuels, and 80% of domestic energy consumption could be attributed to fossil fuels. The share of U.S. total energy production from fossil fuels reached a peak of 93% in 1966. Total fossil fuel production has continued to increase, but production has also risen for non-fossil fuel sources such as nuclear power and renewables. As a result, fossil fuels have accounted for about 80% of U.S. energy production over the past decade.

Since 2008, U.S. production of crude oil, dry natural gas and natural gas plant liquids has risen by 15 quadrillion British thermal units (quads), 14 quads and 4 quads, respectively. These increases have more than offset declining coal production, which has fallen 10 quads since its peak in 2008.

In 2019, U.S. energy production exceeded energy consumption for the first time since 1957, and U.S. energy exports exceeded energy imports for the first time since 1952. U.S. energy net imports as a share of consumption rose to a peak of 30% in 2005. Energy net imports fell below zero in 2019, but many regions in the United States continued to import significant amounts of energy.

Most U.S. energy trade is from petroleum, including crude oil and petroleum products, which accounted for 69% of energy exports and 86% of energy imports in 2019. Much of the imported crude oil is processed by U.S. refineries and is exported as petroleum products. Petroleum products accounted for 42% of total U.S. energy exports in 2019.

The share of U.S. total energy consumption attributed to fossil fuels has fallen from its peak of 94% in 1966 to 80% in 2019. The total amount of fossil fuels consumed in the United States has also declined from its peak of 86 quads in 2007. Since then, coal consumption has fallen by 11 quads. In 2019, renewable energy consumption in the United States surpassed coal consumption for the first time. The decline in coal consumption, along with a 3-quad decrease in petroleum consumption, more than offset an 8-quad increase in natural gas consumption.