Energy intensity of US manufacturing decreases while fuel use increases, EIA survey says

Published on October 23, 2017 by Alex Murtha

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The energy intensity of U.S. manufacturing has continued to decrease, according to a recently-published Manufacturing Energy Consumption Survey (MECS) from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Specifically, from 2010 to 2014, U.S. manufacturing fuel consumption increased by 4.7 percent while real gross output increased by 9.6 percent, resulting in a 4.4 percent decrease in energy intensity.

While a number of manufacturing establishments have taken steps to reduce their overall energy consumption, the survey said the intensity decrease was mostly the result of shift manufacturing output from energy-intensive industries, such as metals manufacturing, chemicals, paper, petroleum, and coal products.

The survey noted that if those major industries had maintained the same proportions of the manufacturing sector, the energy intensity decline between 2010 and 2014 would have been a mere 0.7 percent, instead of 4.4 percent.

Transportation equipment manufacturing was one of the fastest growing industries from the survey period, growing by approximately 30.8 percent.

MECS said that while output and consumption rose, manufacturing employment decreased in the four surveyed years, which yielded an increase in labor productivity.

Total energy consumption accounts for both fuel and non-fuel uses. Accounting for only fuel use, natural gas made up the largest share of manufacturing use while coal, coke, fuel oil and other petroleum liquids made up smaller shares. In total, natural gas accounted for 39 percent of total fuel use in manufacturing in 2014, compared to 37 percent in 2010.