Thursday, November 20, 2008

US energy facts

Though accounting for only 5 percent of the world's population, Americans consume more than 21.7 percent of the world primary energy (2005). Total world energy consumption is a bit more than 462 quadrillion (1015) Btu and US consume almost 101 quadrillion (1015) Btu.

The United States was self-sufficient in energy until the late 1950s when energy consumption began to outpace domestic production. At that point, the Nation began to import more energy to fill the gap. In 2007, net imported energy accounted for 29 percent of all energy consumed. U.S. oil consumption is approximately 21 million barrels per day, and domestic production is only 6 million barrels per day. Because of that energy dependence, in response to an energy crisis and hostile Iranian and Soviet Union relations, President Jimmy Carter (1977-1981) announced the Carter Doctrine which declared that any interference with US interests in the Persian Gulf would be considered as an attack on US vital interests. This doctrine was later expanded by his successor, President Ronald Reagan (1981-1989).

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.

World energy consumption. Click on picture for full size.

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.

Biofuels and biomass energy make up the largest portion of U.S. renewable-energy generation, producing 1.88 quadrillion Btu in the first half of 2008, followed by hydropower, which accounted for 1.38 quadrillion Btu. Geothermal power made up 17 trillion Btu and solar made up only 41 million Btu.

According to Residential Energy Consumption Survey from 2001, annual energy bill for a typical US single family home is approximately $2,000. Average price of electricity is 10.6 cents per kilo-watt hour. Average price of natural gas is $12.42 per million Btu.

Average US energy bill structure (2001). Click on picture for full size.

Nuclear energy (nuclear power) accounts for about 19 percent of the total electricity generated in the United States, an amount comparable to all the electricity used in California, Texas and New York together (three most populous states). There are 104 commercial nuclear generating units that are fully licensed by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to operate in the United States. Of these 104 reactors, 69 are categorized a pressurized water reactors (PWRs) totaling 65,100 net megawatts (electric) and 35 units are boiling water reactors (BWR) totaling 32,300 net megawatts (electric).

According to annual energy outlook 2008, total primary energy consumption will grow by 0.7 percent per year from 2006 to 2030 (reference case). Fossil fuels account for 55 percent of the increase. Coal use increases in the electric power sector, where electricity demand growth and current environmental policies favor coal-fired capacity additions. About 54 percent of the projected increase in coal consumption occurs after 2020, when higher natural gas prices make coal the fuel of choice for most new power plants under current laws and regulations, which do not limit greenhouse gas emissions. Increasing demand for natural gas in the buildings and industrial sectors offsets the decline in natural gas use in the electricity sector after 2016, resulting in a net increase of 5 percent from 2006 to 2030.


Anonymous said...

In science class, we are learning about "going green" and it is really interesting how much we can do for the enviorment in such little ways. A lot of global warming is caused because of the way we choose to power our houses. I would suggest hydroelectricity for any town with a river. It is best for the enviorment ( in my opinion ), it does not pollute and pays for itself once the dam is built. I hope you took the time to read through this and I hope you agree with me.

Admin said...

Hydroelectricity isn't always the right solution, check China's example with Three Gorgeous Dam, any green solution needs excellent planing and expertise.