The energy industry is a double-edged sword. It empowers our modern society and lifestyle, while at the same time causing so much damage to our planet.
We can’t live without modern energy sources like electricity, gasoline, and natural gas. But, as we’re finding out with global warming, we can’t really live with these things either, as they are pumping carbon dioxide into our atmosphere at alarming rates.
Luckily, tracking energy data is becoming much easier. We can actually see how much of our energy is coming from different sources, and how much is used by different industries.
Understanding these energy statistics can give us a better idea of how to find global energy solutions and become less dependent on fossil fuels around the planet.
Want to learn about global and US energy use? Keep reading below for all the latest data.
Main Sources of Energy
According to the US Energy Information Agency (EIA), the main sources of energy in the US are petroleum, natural gas, coal, nuclear, and renewable energy sources.
Unfortunately, renewable energy sources make up only 12% of the total energy supply, with petroleum and natural gas making up more than half of our energy supply. Here’s a breakdown of each energy source.
Petroleum leads the pack, making up 35% of our overall energy. Where does all of this petroleum go? Most of it is used by the transportation industry. In fact, 90% of the transportation industry’s fuel usage is petroleum.
Petroleum, which is also lovingly referred to as crude oil, is the yellowish-black liquid that is extracted from beneath the earth’s surface. It’s the topic of much controversy, as energy companies are constantly trying to set up new oil drilling rigs in beautiful, protected places.
The problem with petroleum is that it’s a fossil fuel. So when it’s burned up as a fuel source, it releases harmful emissions into the atmosphere, helping to warm and damage our planet.
It’s also non-renewable. It takes millions of years for bacteria and algae to create petroleum, which we are using far faster than the planet can sustain.
Once we use it up, it’s gone for good. It’s probably not the most sustainable idea to build huge industries around non-renewable energy sources.
While its main use is to make gasoline to power our vehicles, it’s also used to create many products like tires, refrigerators, and anesthetics.
Natural gas sits just behind petroleum as the second biggest energy category. It makes up 34% of our energy supply.
Most of the natural gas produced is converted into electricity and used by industrial consumers to power their operations. In fact, natural gas is one of the biggest contributors to our overall electricity supply.
It’s used in the industrial industry as a heating source, which is important for producing products like chemicals, fertilizers, and hydrogen. Natural gas is also used heavily in residential applications as the main heating source, along with cooking and heating water for bathing.
Only about 4% of the transportation industry’s fuel comes from natural gas, mainly powering private fleets and government vehicles, rather than consumer vehicles.
Natural gas occurs when plant matter decomposes and is exposed to high heat over long periods of time (millions of years). Energy is stored in this matter in the form of chemical bonds.
As an energy source, natural gas is produced by oil wells and drilling rigs on land and offshore. It also comes from the pores of shale, sedimentary rocks found in large supplies in various states.
Coal makes up about 10% of our nation’s energy supply. Coals energy use and production have been in decline since 2008, as less demand exists for this energy source.
Most of the coal we use produces electricity. It’s burned in power plants, which produces heat, which turns water into steam, which moves a turbine and generates electricity.
Burning coal produces greenhouse gases. Plus, it requires the building of coal mines, which destroy natural environments.
Nuclear energy makes up 9% of our total energy supply. It’s primarily used to generate electricity, power industries, commercial applications, and residential homes.
According to National Geographic, nuclear energy is clean and renewable. It doesn’t produce greenhouse gases and is safe enough to construct in cities and near communities.
Nuclear energy generates electricity by heating water and producing steam. However, the byproducts of nuclear energy are a major concern.
Radioactive material, that is toxic and dangerous, is generated in nuclear plants. Any object or material that comes in contact with radioactive dust can remain contaminated and unsafe for thousands of years.
Renewable energy sources make up 12% of our total energy supply. While this is somewhat encouraging, we still have a long way to go.
Renewable energy can be broken down into different energy production methods. In order of largest energy providers, renewable sources include biomass, wind power, hydroelectric power, solar, and geothermal power.
As sustainable technology is produced on massive scales, manufacturing costs are declining, leading to faster adoption of both wind and solar power applications.
Digitization is a huge part of cleaning up our energy act. Businesses can connect to energy data with ease using smart APIs. You can monitor energy data sources automatically, track meter data the smart way, and forecast the weather in ways relevant to the energy sector.
To make your energy company more efficient, visit this energy API marketplace to find new ways to digitize and connect today.
Aside from that, we simply need to increase the demand for renewable resources. The largest source of pollution is the transportation industry, which is mainly reliant on petroleum.
If enough consumers, businesses, and industries move towards electric vehicles powered by wind and solar, we can start to see serious positive change. But commercial operations aren’t going to change until individuals put enough collective pressure on them to do so.
Energy Data That Empowers Change
There’s a lot more energy data that we can use and analyze to get an understanding of where we are as a country and as a planet. You can find much of this data from the EIA, as well as the EPA.
As you continue to research, we hope you develop a strong conviction for the increased demand for renewable energy, and technology that utilizes renewable energy such as electric vehicles.
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