All sources for U.S. energy consumption fell by a record 7% to 92.9 quadrillion British thermal units (quads) in 2020, from 2019, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). The only energy consumption that increased in 2020 was for renewables, which rose by 2%.
The EIA recently updated its U.S. energy consumption by source and sector chart with 2020 data that showed consumption for petroleum decreased by 13%, natural gas fell by 2%, coal declined by 19% and nuclear electric power decreased by 2%. The EIA uses British thermal units to compare different types of energy that are usually measured in units that are not directly comparable, such as gallons of biofuels compared with kilowatt-hours of wind energy.
The transportation sector typically accounts for about 70% of U.S. petroleum consumption, and the industrial sector comprises most of the rest. In 2020, petroleum consumption for transportation fell by 16%, or more than 4 quads, from 2019 levels. Petroleum consumption fell less than 1 quad each for the industrial, residential and commercial sectors.
Natural gas consumed by the electric power sector has risen over time in the United States. In 2000, the electricity sector accounted for 22% of U.S. natural gas consumption. By 2020, the share had risen to 38%. Natural gas consumption in the residential and commercial sectors fluctuates with weather conditions because its primary use in the sectors is for heating.
The electric power sector typically has accounted for at least half of U.S. renewable energy consumption since the 1960s. In 2020, the sector consumed 60% of all renewable energy used in the United States, a level previously reached in 1998. The industrial sector’s share of U.S. renewable consumption has declined from about 30% to 20% in the past 15 years.
Over that period, the transportation sector’s share has risen to more than 10%, largely as a result of increased fuel ethanol consumption. U.S. residential and commercial sectors have consistently accounted for less than 10% of combined U.S. renewable consumption.
The electric power sector has consistently accounted for 90% of U.S. coal consumption, and the industrial sector accounts for most of the remainder.
Overall, in 2020, energy consumption by the U.S. electric power sector fell by 3%. U.S. energy consumption fell in all four end-use sectors in 2020 after accounting for electrical system energy losses. Transportation sector consumption fell by 14% from 2019, the industrial sector declined by 4%, the residential sector decreased by 3% and the commercial sector fell by 7%. Industrial sector consumption exceeded transportation sector consumption for the first time since 1999 after accounting for energy losses.