Today's Trends: Oil, Gas, Renewable Energy Consumption Rises

Consumption of oil, natural gas, nuclear and renewable energy rose from 1989 to 2009, while the level of coal consumed changed little in 1989 versus 2009, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) Annual Energy Review 2009. The amount of electric power being imported into the U.S. for consumption also increased during that time. EIA reported that primary energy consumption in the U.S. fell to 95 quadrillion Btu, down from the all-time high of 102 quadrillion Btu in 2007 and five percent below the 2008 level.

Most energy consumed in the U.S. came from fossil fuels from 1949 to 2009, while renewable energy resources supplied a small but growing portion of energy consumption. According to EIA's Annual Energy Outlook 2010, which assumes current laws and regulations remain unchanged, fossil fuels will continue to provide most of the energy consumed in the U.S. over the next 25 years. However, the fossil fuel share of overall energy use declines as the renewable forms of energy grow, EIA reports. Non-hydroelectric renewable energy is expected to double by 2035.

According to the EIA, wood served as the primary form of energy until about 1885, when it was surpassed by coal. Despite its tremendous and rapid expansion, coal was in turn overtaken by petroleum in the mid-20th century. In the second half of the 20th century, natural gas experienced rapid development, and coal began to expand again. Late in the century, other forms of energy, including hydroelectric power and nuclear electric power, were developed and supplied significant amounts of energy.

The U.S. 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 meet its needs. In 2009, net imported energy accounted for 24 percent of all energy consumed.


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