The U. S. is ranked at the second leading energy consumer with regards to consumption in the year 2011 while it ranks in the seventh position in the energy consumption per-capita. According to the Energy Information Administration, it is estimated that most of the energy consumed in the U. S. in the year 2011 came from fossil fuels at 25 percent, 21percent from coal while 23 percent came from natural gas. It is also estimated that nuclear power contributed 8 percent; hydroelectric dams supplied 4 percent of the energy while renewable forms of energy supplied a total of 8 percent mainly from wind, geothermal and solar. The energy consumption in the U. S. has drastically soared at a higher rate as compared to energy production over the years and this has led to energy imports so as to meet the deficit.
According to the U. S. Department of Energy, the leading sources of energy sources in the U. S. include fossil fuels such as oil, coal and natural gas, nuclear power and renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, geothermal and marine. The bulk of the energy consumption in the U. S. goes to the residential and commercial applications, industrial sector, transport sector and in electrical power generators while the consumption levels vary according to the sector. For instance, oil is widely used in providing about 92 percent of the energy that is used in the transport sector while the rest is used in generating electric power (Hoogwijk 2605).
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Fossil fuels, natural gas, coal and bio-fuels and electricity top the list of the United States sources of energy (Energy Information Administration). A greater percentage of the United States petroleum products are imported majorly from the Middle East. According to the United States Energy Department, American economy relies on four major sources of energy: electricity, nuclear, fossil and renewable energy. The United States has been heavily depending on importation of oil products for a very long period. However, the United States government through its Energy Department has been intensively researching on local oil production. According to the U. S. Energy Department, the United States has a high dependency on imported oil. (Department of Energy).
This is because for nearly the last decade, her safe oil production level has really gone up. For instance, President Barrack Obama availed and facilitated oil and gas exploration on several millions of acres of land. This has boosted her production to an extent that it is almost outsmarting the world’s production. For instance, in the Lawrence County of Illinois, the department of energy initiated a technological program that uses an alkaline surfactant polymer technique. This technology has not only revived the oil drilling but also increased the production four times (Department of Energy).
The primary energy sources that are used in the U. S. are generally measured using a conventional unit of measure of British thermal units (Btu) that measure fuel consumption using the energy fuel content. As a result, the total U. S. energy consumption for the year 2011 was estimated at 98 quadrillion Btu. In real energy consumption terms, one quadrillion Btu represents 170 million barrels of oil, about fifty million tonnes of coal or an estimated volume of natural gas at one trillion cubic feet. The chart below summarizes the energy consumption in various sectors in the U. S. where petroleum products provided the biggest share of the energy used, then natural gas, and coal. The other sources in the energy consumption are nuclear energy and then followed by renewable forms of energy that consist of hydro power, sun, geothermal power, wind, and finally biomass.
Coal is a vital source of energy in industries in the U. S. as it provides almost 20 percent of the energy consumed. However, there are several concerns in the use of coal as it is regarded as a source of environmental pollution. It is worth noting that coal is used in generating nearly 50 percent of the United States total energy and if it is not checked, it can be hazardous to environmental conservation. However, the United States department of energy is venturing into more sustainable and efficient energy sources. This can achieved through innovation and improvement of the energy sources that are already in use. For instance, carbon capture and storage is an efficient way of capturing of carbon IV oxide gas from the coal powered plants and industries and channeling it to storage facilities for immediate and future uses.
Renewable forms energy sources generate about 9. 4 percent of the total U. S. energy consumption as per the year 2011 government statistics. The hydroelectric power generates the largest portion of the energy consumed at almost 62 percent, wind generates 24 percent, biomass wood and waste 11 percent, geothermal sources at 3 percent while solar produces less than one percent. These forms of renewable sources of energy are mostly season and as a result the output varies as the power production is a function of generation capability and availability of natural resources. The U. S. is ranked at the second spot in using renewable sources of generating power for consumption after China (Energy Information Administration). Although several forms of renewable energy power have minimal environmental effects as compared to fossil and nuclear plants, the generation of renewable energy is usually very expensive and unreliable in some cases. However, there are several policies that have been laid down by the Obama government in ensuring that the use of renewable forms of energy are adopted by offering tax credits, setting targets and opening the market for the exploitation of renewable forms of energy.
Data on Energy Production and Consumption
The energy consumption in the U. S. is primarily utilized in generating electricity, in the transportation sector and in the commercial and residential setup such as homes and businesses. Consequently, energy consumption in the United States is based on four economic categories and sectors that include households, industrial, transportation and commercial. According to the Energy Information Administration, in the year 2011, the aggregate U. S. primary energy consumption was estimated at 98 quadrillion Btu. The EIA further analyses the proportion of energy utilization per sector where the residential sector consumed 23 percent, followed by the transport sector at 28 percent, commercial sector at 19 percent and finally the industrial sector accounts for 30 percent. According to the U. S. Department of Energy projections, it is estimated that by the year 2035 the country will use more than 115 in driving the economy. Similarly, the proportion of the energy used per sector is estimated at 21 percent for the residential application, 29 percent for the transport sector, 21 percent for the commercial sector and finally 29 percent for the industrial sector (Energy Information Administration).
The consumption of energy in the household and commercial applications is almost similar in terms of energy application. Most residential and commercial premises require energy for heating, lighting homes and offices, cooling among other utilities. It is worth noting that the residential energy use in the United States has seriously increased with the increase in technology. The introduction and use of luxury electronic and mechanical gadgets such as computers, microwaves, copiers, generators among others have seriously increased the energy demand and general use in the past few decades. For instance, space heating in the residential homes during winter consumes a lot of energy. This high energy need of air conditioners if coupled with electronic gadgets such as washing machines, water heaters, cookers and computers makes residential energy consumers among the top energy consumers. However, the use of natural gas, electricity and petroleum products for lighting, heating and cooking are the top three energy consumption processes in the United States residential and commercial energy consumption.
The transportation sector of the United States economy mostly relies on oil, gasoline and petroleum products. The United States uses about 28% of its total energy that is generated in moving people and goods to various destinations through automobiles, aircraft and trains. This consumption process involves the use of buses, trains, private cars airplanes among other carriers. Surprisingly, over sixty percent of this energy is consumed by the private cars. This is ironical as one would expect public transport automobiles such as buses, trains and airplanes to lead in the energy consumption in this sector. The private cars take a lead in the energy consumption of this sector because many American citizens have resorted to owning and using private cars that are fuel guzzlers. The population of the United States is about only 5 percent of the world’s population but nearly one third of the world’s automobiles are found in this country. This reflects on how much fuel the united states consume annually. To make the matters worse, the rate at which the number of these automobiles increases is alarming. Economic analysts predict that in 20 years time, the total number of miles driven in the United States will go up by 40% which will equally increase the demand of fuel consumption (National Academics).
Industrial sector is also considered as a heavy consumer of energy in the United States as it is a significant sector and a key component for the U. S. economy. This is because every product consumed is a country or region is as a result of a particular industrial process and these production processes heavily rely on energy. In particular, the United States energy consumption also takes about one third of the country’s total energy. In this regard, industrial energy use in the United States and any other economy affects every citizen. The nation’s citizens are the immediate consumers of its industrial products. This energy is consumed in many ways such as raising the temperature of machinery and raw material during the production process. On the same note, some of this energy is consumed in the general heating which entails the production of steam and hot water through heating of boilers. Industries in the United States heavily depend on natural gas and oil for their energy requirements. In addition, more energy consumption in the industrial sector is evident in the petroleum refining industries, timber and paper industries as well as chemical industries (Hoogwijk 2603).
Energy Production Balance with Consumption in the United States
The United States energy requirement is higher as compared to the level of energy production and the energy consumed in the country is not comparable to her population. With less than five percent of the world’s population, the U. S. uses up to twenty five percent of the world’s total energy (Pimentel 1-2). The energy that the country requires for residential and industrial application as well as commercial and transportation sectors is very high as compared to other world users. Major residential and commercial energy use in the United States includes lighting, heating, cooling and operation of various appliances. Much of the heating takes place during winter when temperatures are very low. The key energy sources involved in this heating and warming processes are natural gas, electricity and oil. Otherwise, natural gas is preferably the most applied form of energy in many households. Contrarily, cooling is highly needed in summer when the temperatures go up. These can take up the form of air conditioning of rooms and refrigeration. In general, the heating and cooling energy consumption amounts up to 54 percent of the US domestic and commercial energy use (Department of Energy).
In order to achieve energy efficiency in the United States, the government through the department of energy is emphasizing on manufacture and use of more efficient gadgets. This is being done through thorough research in electronics and mechanical technology that helps in the updating of such devices and gadgets currently in use. For instance, to curb high lighting energy consumption in residential and commercial sector, more efficient bulbs and fluorescent tubes have been introduced. More efforts are currently underway to help reduce the industrial and transportation energy needs and consumption. Without proper strategies put in place to man the energy acquisition and use, a country can still remain energy dependent even if its production capacity has tremendously improved. Another very important aspect of energy efficiency that should not be ignored by the United States government is the use of fuel guzzlers automobiles. As long as the American citizens have the right to luxurious lifestyle, they should always be mindful of the achievement of an energy sustainable economy. They should adopt more of the public transport system rather than sticking to private car ownership and use (National Academics).
Summary and Conclusion
The link between the energy consumption and sectors has been changing over time as technology advances gradually. For instance, coal energy source was initially used expansively in heating houses and commercial buildings but its application has reduced significantly as it has been replaced by electricity. Although the application of renewable forms of energy contributes a small percent to the total primary energy production, the role of renewable forms of energy is expanding in the United States (Whitney 67). In conclusion, United States has made very positive advances in reducing its dependency on oil producing countries for its energy needs. The government especially under the president Obama’s administration has opened several oil fields in the United States for drilling. The United States has also embarked on the use of environmental friendly sources of energy such as solar and petroleum products that have low lead and sulphur content. This endeavor is a very good strategy to sustain the United States rapid economic development and high energy needs. However, the government should come up with ways of reducing its energy consumption especially in the residential, commercial and transportation sectors. Some of the gestures such constant research and innovativeness in the various fields of technology is a sure step towards the attainment of energy sustainability.
Energy Information Administration. What are the major sources and users of energy in the United States? 7 Feb. 2013. Web. 4 May 2013. http://www. eia. gov/energy_in_brief/article/major_energy_sources_and_users. cfm.
Hoogwijk, Vuuren. Renewable energy sources: Their global potential for the first-half of the 21st century at a global level: An integrated approach. Journal of Energy Policy, 35, 2590–2610, 2010. Print.
National Academics. How We Use Energy. 2 May 2013. web. 4 May 2013. http://www. needtoknow. nas. edu/energy/energy-use/.
Pimentel, D. Biofuels, Solar and Wind as Renewable Energy Systems: Benefits and Risks Illustrated. New York: Springer, 2008. Print.
Whitney, Gene. U. S. Fossil Fuel Resources: Terminology, Reporting, and Summary. New York: Diane Publishing, 2010. Print.
Chart 1: U. S. Dependence on Foreign Oil Declining