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BlacknGold: Introduction to U.S. Energy Consumption



January 07, 2012 – Comments (1) | RELATED TICKERS: XOM , TVIA , CNX

     This is my first blog post engaging the increasingly important topics of energy, oil, biofuels, and surprising technologies by innovative - and perhaps overly optimistic - companies hoping to cash in on the future of energy. For this post, I will provide some background information on energy consumption within the United States. As with all of my posts I will be straightforward, unbiased, and factual. I will make frequent use of citations and will happily yield citations that are not explicitly mentioned. For those of you who don't already follow me I am senior bioprocess engineer student looking to attend the University of Texas at Austin for graduate school next fall. Bioprocess engineering is a new degree that combines biological sciences and chemical engineering and focuses on biotechnology, sustainable chemical and polymer manufacturing, renewable fuels and feedstocks, and pharmaceutical engineering. 

U.S. Energy Overview

            The United States consumed approximately 98 quadrillion Btus of energy in 2010. Yes, you did just read “quadrillion”, which is one thousand million million units (1015). We produced 75 quadrillion Btus (76.53%) of all the energy consumed while importing 30 quadrillion Btus (30.6%) and exporting 8 quadrillion Btus (8.16%). I'm aware those percentages add up to more than 100%, but they are normalized to our consumption number. The total energy production breakdown for 2010:

     22 quadrillion Btus (22.45%) from natural gas

     22 quadrillion Btus (22.45%) from coal

     12 quadrillion Btus (12.25%) from crude oil

      8 quadrillion Btus (8.16%) from nuclear electric power

      4 quadrillion Btus (4.08%) from biomass

      3 quadrillion Btus (3.06%) from natural gas plant liquids

      3 quadrillion Btus (3.06%) from hydroelectric power

      1 quadrillion Btus (1.02%) from geothermal, solar, and wind


Electricity Generation

            The next decade will be a critical period in human development as we strive to balance quickly modernizing and expanding populations. Unfortunately for renewable energy advocates, sustainable energy generation has a long way to go and will require an enormous investment. After all, coal, petroleum, and natural gas have enjoyed decades of investment to build the infrastructure required. Renewable sources have a lot of ground to make up and perhaps have been judged unfairly due to the short amount of time they have received meaningful investment. The electricity generation breakdown for 2010:

     45% from coal

     24% from natural gas

     20% from nuclear energy

     10% from renewable

          6% from hydroelectric power

          1% from wind

          1% from biomass

          <1% from solar

          <1% from geothermal

       1% from petroleum


Gasoline Consumption

            My specialty area focuses more on fuels than other types of energy, so most of my write-ups will be about transportation fuels. Therefore, all I will say here is that in 2010 the United States consumed 138.6 billion gallons of gasoline that contained 13.19 billion gallons of ethanol. The good news: our gasoline consumption has been declining about 2.5% a year since 2005. Don’t make the mistake of thinking ethanol will be the answer. It takes 1.5 gallons of ethanol to match the same amount of energy in 1.0 gallon of gasoline. But more on that later!


These statistics come from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Leave comments, feedback, and questions below. Also, how do I embed pictures into my blogs? They will help explain some of the numbers much more clearly in future posts. 



1 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On January 10, 2012 at 12:30 PM, TMFBlacknGold (91.34) wrote:

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