Chart: The Rate of Change in U.S. Energy Consumption
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Chart: The Rate of Change in U.S. Energy Consumption

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Chart: The Rate of Change in U.S. Energy Consumption

Chart: The Rate of Change in U.S. Energy Consumption

This chart shows the winners and losers in energy sources used

The Chart of the Week is a weekly Visual Capitalist feature on Fridays.

Weeks ago, we published a flow chart that showed all U.S. energy consumption from 2015 in one giant diagram.

This is a great tool for understanding a static picture of U.S. energy consumption – it breaks down the energy sources, as well as the details about where the energy ultimately flows. It also shows that a large amount of energy potential, about 61%, is inevitably “wasted” due to the laws of physics as well as inefficient processes.

However, because it is a static view of one year, it ends up doing a poor job of encapsulating how the energy sector is shifting. This week’s chart shows the changing landscape for different energy sources in the United States.

Examining the Shift in U.S. Energy Consumption

As a starting point, based on the aforementioned diagram of energy usage, let’s look at the composition of the energy mix:

  • Oil: 36%
  • Natural gas: 29%
  • Coal: 16%
  • Renewables: 10%
  • Nuclear: 9%

Now, let’s look at the rate of change of these broad categories between 2014 and 2015 according to the EIA:

  • Oil: +2%
  • Natural gas: +3%
  • Coal: -12%
  • Renewables: +1%
  • Nuclear: 0%

On a macro level, the first obvious note is that coal consumption dropped rapidly in 2015. This, along with other factors, is why many people are declaring that coal is dead.

Another interesting observation is that renewables only increased by 1% in consumption. This seems strange, considering that there is such hype around things like the Tesla Gigafactory and the surging demand for lithium-ion batteries. Diving a bit deeper will provide an explanation for this.

Renewable Energy

There are five main components that make up U.S. renewable energy: solar, wind, hydro, geothermal, and biomass.

The biggest sub-sector is biomass, which made up about 43% of all renewable usage in the United States in 2015. Hydro is also significant, as it is 27% of the renewable total. However, as you will see, consumption in biomass and hydro dropped between 2014 and 2015:

  • Biomass: -5%
  • Hydro: -4%
  • Wind: +5%
  • Solar: +31%
  • Geothermal: +4%

Even though the biomass and hydro consumption dropped, the future of renewables is in good hands. In particular, it has been the miraculous change in the price per watt of solar energy that has changed the landscape. Solar energy consumption, even though it is a relatively small number compared to other energy sources, increased by 31% in 2015.

As a final point, here is the data and projections going out to 2017 for the main renewable sources, according to the EIA. Note that solar’s CAGR (compound annual growth rate) is 39% between 2013 and the projected 2017 number.

Renewable energy consumption (Quadrillion Btu, 2015)

 2013201420152016e2017eCAGR (2013-2017)
Solar0.310.420.550.660.8239%
Geothermal0.210.210.220.230.233%
Wind1.601.731.812.082.2612%
Hydro2.562.472.392.572.52-1%
Biomass3.763.933.773.743.750%
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Energy

Charted: 40 Years of Global Energy Production, by Country

Here’s a snapshot of global energy production, and which countries have produced the most fossil fuels, nuclear, and renewable energy since 1980.

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The Biggest Energy Producers since 1980

Energy was already a hot topic before 2022, but soaring household energy bills and a cost of living crisis has brought it even more to the forefront.

Which countries are the biggest energy producers, and what types of energy are they churning out? This graphic by 911 Metallurgist gives a breakdown of global energy production, showing which countries have used the most fossil fuels, nuclear, and renewable energy since 1980.

All figures refer to the British thermal unit (BTU), equivalent to the heat required to heat one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit.

Editor’s note: Click on any graphic to see a full-width version that is higher resolution

1. Fossil Fuels

Biggest Producers of Fossil Fuel since 1980

View the full-size infographic

While the U.S. is a dominant player in both oil and natural gas production, China holds the top spot as the world’s largest fossil fuel producer, largely because of its significant production and consumption of coal.

Over the last decade, China has used more coal than the rest of the world, combined.

However, it’s worth noting that the country’s fossil fuel consumption and production have dipped in recent years, ever since the government launched a five-year plan back in 2014 to help reduce carbon emissions.

2. Nuclear Power

Biggest Producers of Nuclear Energy since 1980

View the full-size infographic

The U.S. is the world’s largest producer of nuclear power by far, generating about double the amount of nuclear energy as France, the second-largest producer.

While nuclear power provides a carbon-free alternative to fossil fuels, the nuclear disaster in Fukushima caused many countries to move away from the energy source, which is why global use has dipped in recent years.

Despite the fact that many countries have recently pivoted away from nuclear energy, it still powers about 10% of the world’s electricity. It’s also possible that nuclear energy will play an expanded role in the energy mix going forward, since decarbonization has emerged as a top priority for nations around the world.

3. Renewable Energy

Biggest Producers of Renewable Energy

View the full-size infographic

Renewable energy sources (including wind, hydro, and solar) account for about 23% of electricity production worldwide. China leads the front on renewable production, while the U.S. comes in second place.

While renewable energy production has ramped up in recent years, more countries will need to ramp up their renewable energy production in order to reach net-zero targets by 2050.

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Energy

What is the Cost of Europe’s Energy Crisis?

As European gas prices soar, countries are introducing policies to try and curb the energy crisis.

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What is the Cost of Europe’s Energy Crisis?

This was originally posted on Elements. Sign up to the free mailing list to get beautiful visualizations on natural resource megatrends in your email every week.

Europe is scrambling to cut its reliance on Russian fossil fuels.

As European gas prices soar eight times their 10-year average, countries are introducing policies to curb the impact of rising prices on households and businesses. These include everything from the cost of living subsidies to wholesale price regulation. Overall, funding for such initiatives has reached $276 billion as of August.

With the continent thrown into uncertainty, the above chart shows allocated funding by country in response to the energy crisis.

The Energy Crisis, In Numbers

Using data from Bruegel, the below table reflects spending on national policies, regulation, and subsidies in response to the energy crisis for select European countries between September 2021 and July 2022. All figures in U.S. dollars.

CountryAllocated Funding Percentage of GDPHousehold Energy Spending,
Average Percentage
🇩🇪 Germany$60.2B1.7%9.9%
🇮🇹 Italy$49.5B2.8%10.3%
🇫🇷 France$44.7B1.8%8.5%
🇬🇧 U.K.$37.9B1.4%11.3%
🇪🇸 Spain$27.3B2.3%8.9%
🇦🇹 Austria$9.1B2.3%8.9%
🇵🇱 Poland$7.6B1.3%12.9%
🇬🇷 Greece$6.8B3.7%9.9%
🇳🇱 Netherlands$6.2B0.7%8.6%
🇨🇿 Czech Republic$5.9B2.5%16.1%
🇧🇪 Belgium$4.1B0.8%8.2%
🇷🇴 Romania$3.8B1.6%12.5%
🇱🇹 Lithuania$2.0B3.6%10.0%
🇸🇪 Sweden$1.9B0.4%9.2%
🇫🇮 Finland$1.2B0.5%6.1%
🇸🇰 Slovakia$1.0B1.0%14.0%
🇮🇪 Ireland$1.0B0.2%9.2%
🇧🇬 Bulgaria$0.8B1.2%11.2%
🇱🇺 Luxembourg$0.8B1.1%n/a
🇭🇷 Croatia$0.6B1.1%14.3%
🇱🇻 Lativia$0.5B1.4%11.6%
🇩🇰 Denmark$0.5B0.1%8.2%
🇸🇮 Slovenia$0.3B0.5%10.4%
🇲🇹 Malta$0.2B1.4%n/a
🇪🇪 Estonia$0.2B0.8%10.9%
🇨🇾 Cyprus$0.1B0.7%n/a

Source: Bruegel, IMF. Euro and pound sterling exchange rates to U.S. dollar as of August 25, 2022.

Germany is spending over $60 billion to combat rising energy prices. Key measures include a $300 one-off energy allowance for workers, in addition to $147 million in funding for low-income families. Still, energy costs are forecasted to increase by an additional $500 this year for households.

In Italy, workers and pensioners will receive a $200 cost of living bonus. Additional measures, such as tax credits for industries with high energy usage were introduced, including a $800 million fund for the automotive sector.

With energy bills predicted to increase three-fold over the winter, households in the U.K. will receive a $477 subsidy in the winter to help cover electricity costs.

Meanwhile, many Eastern European countries—whose households spend a higher percentage of their income on energy costs— are spending more on the energy crisis as a percentage of GDP. Greece is spending the highest, at 3.7% of GDP.

Utility Bailouts

Energy crisis spending is also extending to massive utility bailouts.

Uniper, a German utility firm, received $15 billion in support, with the government acquiring a 30% stake in the company. It is one of the largest bailouts in the country’s history. Since the initial bailout, Uniper has requested an additional $4 billion in funding.

Not only that, Wien Energie, Austria’s largest energy company, received a €2 billion line of credit as electricity prices have skyrocketed.

Deepening Crisis

Is this the tip of the iceberg? To offset the impact of high gas prices, European ministers are discussing even more tools throughout September in response to a threatening energy crisis.

To reign in the impact of high gas prices on the price of power, European leaders are considering a price ceiling on Russian gas imports and temporary price caps on gas used for generating electricity, among others.

Price caps on renewables and nuclear were also suggested.

Given the depth of the situation, the chief executive of Shell said that the energy crisis in Europe would extend beyond this winter, if not for several years.

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