April 7, 2017

Increase in Natural Gas Use Offsets Coal, According to U.S. EIA

The U.S. continues to make strides in the development of its energy resources. That progress is reflected in the manner in which it uses those resources – as a recent U.S. Energy Information Agency report illustrates. Titled “U.S. energy consumption rose slightly in 2016 despite a significant decline in coal use,” the data indicates an increase in the use of natural gas over the course of 2016, along with a corresponding decrease in consumption of coal:

Primary energy consumption in the United States in 2016 totaled 97.4 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu), a slight increase from the 2015 level. Consumption of coal decreased by 9%, nearly offsetting increases in the consumption of renewables, petroleum, natural gas, and nuclear fuel.

Fossil fuels continue to account for the bulk of U.S. energy consumption, and the consumption of petroleum and natural gas both increased in 2016. However, those increases were more than offset by lower coal consumption. Overall, fossil fuels made up 81% of the United States’ total energy consumption in 2016, slightly lower than 2015 levels, but down from 86% in 2005.

As the report goes on to relate, power generation and industrial sectors played a prominent role in increased demand for natural gas:

Natural gas consumption increased to 27.5 trillion cubic feet, led by higher demand in the electric power and industrial sectors. Natural gas consumption in the residential and commercial buildings sectors fell slightly, reflecting lower heating demand. Coal consumption fell to 730 million short tons in 2016, the third consecutive year of declining coal consumption. Coal consumption decreased in the electric power sector by 61 million short tons (8%), while industrial sector coal consumption fell by 6 million short tons (11%).

CEPI sees these developments as holding great promise for both consumers and the environment. Cleaner-burning, efficient natural gas can play a prominent role in diversifying the U.S. energy mix, as efforts continue to lower the country’s carbon footprint. Once in operation, projects like the Rover Pipeline will greatly contribute to these goals – providing safe transport of domestically produced natural gas to end markets throughout the region.

Read the full EIA report here.