Fossil fuel consumption drops to lowest level since 1902

Published on July 05, 2018 by Dave Kovaleski

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Fossil fuel consumption dropped to its lowest share of total energy consumption in the United States since 1902 while renewable energy consumption hit a 100 year high in 2017, according to the Energy Information Administration.

Fossil fuels — which includes oil, gas, and coal – account for about 80 percent of total U.S. energy consumption, its lowest share since 1902. It dropped for the third straight year in 2017.

The decrease in 2017 was driven by declines in natural gas and coal consumption. Coal fell by 2.5 percent in 2017 while natural gas fell by 1.4 percent. The drop in natural gas consumption bucks recent trends as it had gone up in eight of the last 10 years.

Petroleum consumption increased in 2017, but it is 10 percent lower than its peak consumption level set in 2005. Petroleum has been the largest source of energy consumption in the United States since 1950 when it surpassed coal.

The renewable share of energy consumption hit a peak in 2017. Renewables – which includes hydroelectricity, biomass, wind, and solar – accounted for 11.3 percent of energy consumption, its highest since the late 1910s when wood made up a large share of energy.

Wind and solar have seen the most significant increase among renewables in the past decade.