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Four Snapshots of American Energy Use

April 7, 2014 - 10:30am

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Americans' use of wind energy -- like that produced at this wind farm in Montana -- grew by 18 percent in 2013 over the previous year. | Photo courtesy of Free Images.

Americans' use of wind energy -- like that produced at this wind farm in Montana -- grew by 18 percent in 2013 over the previous year. | Photo courtesy of Free Images.

Each year, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory uses data from the Energy Information Administration to illustrate the way Americans are consuming energy.

This year’s energy trends aren’t drastically different than 12 months prior. But the data provides broad snapshots of where we get our energy, which energy sources are growing or shrinking in adoption, and what sectors consume the most.

Here are a few takeaways:

  • Americans’ energy use increased 2.4 percent in 2013, including increases in renewable, fossil and nuclear energy use.
     
  • The majority of energy used in 2013 went toward electricity generation, followed by transportation, industrial, residential and commercial energy use -- right on trend with the previous year’s sector-by-sector energy use breakdown.
     
  • Wind energy continued to grow. New wind farms and larger, more efficient turbines contributed to an 18 percent growth in output for this renewable energy source. Check out a map of wind farm growth in the United States over the past 35 years.
     
  • Due partly to a cold winter, Americans used 2.3 percent more natural gas last year than they did in 2012. Meanwhile, the recent shift from coal to gas reversed slightly, due in part to rising natural gas prices.

To explore these trends in more detail, check out this year’s energy flow chart and compare to others from 2012, 2011 and beyond.

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