Report: 2017 fossil fuel energy consumption lowest since 1902
Don’t count out fossil fuels just yet — petroleum, natural gas and coal still dominate the nation’s energy consumption, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration .
Although fossil fuels have accounted for at least 80 percent of energy consumption in this country for more than a century, their share of total energy consumption in 2017 was the lowest since 1902. At a little more than 80 percent, U.S. fossil fuel consumption decreased for the third consecutive year, the EIA said Tuesday.
The decline was driven by slight decreases in coal and natural gas consumption:
• Coal consumption fell by 2.5 percent in 2017, following larger annual declines of 13.6 percent and 8.5 percent in 2015 and 2016, respectively. U.S. consumption of coal peaked in 2005 and has declined nearly 40 percent since then.
• Natural gas consumption fell by 1.4 percent in 2017, a change from recent trends. Unlike coal consumption, which has decreased in eight of the past 10 years, natural gas consumption has increased in eight of the past 10 years and, in 2017, was twice that of coal, the EIA said.
Natural gas consumption growth has been driven by increased use in the electric power sector. Overall, U.S. consumption of natural gas increased by 24 percent from 2005 to 2017, the EIA said.
Although petroleum consumption rose in 2017, it remains 10 percent lower than in the peak year of 2005. Mainly used for transportation, petroleum has been the nation’s largest source of energy consumption since surpassing coal in 1950.
The renewable share of energy consumption — hydroelectricity, biomass, wind and solar — was 11.3 percent in 2017, the highest since the late 1910s, when overall energy consumption was lower and biomass consumption, mainly wood, made up a larger share, the EIA said.
The largest growth in renewables over the past decade has been in solar and wind electricity generation, the EIA said.
Stephen Huba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-1280, email@example.com or via Twitter @shuba_trib.