Overview of Energy in the United States

The United States has always been a resource-rich area, but in the colonial days nearly all energy was supplied by muscle power (both human and

FIGURE 2-1. U.S. energy consumption by source, 1635 to 2001. (From EIA, Annual Energy Review 2001, U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration, Washington, D.C., November 2002.)

animal), waterpower, wind, and wood. The history of energy use in the United States begins with wood being the dominant energy source from the founding of the earliest colonies until late last century, as shown in Figure 2-1 [11], in which consumption is illustrated in quadrillion (i.e., 1015) Btu. Although wood use continued to expand along with the nation's economic growth, energy shortages led to the search for other energy sources; hence, coal began to be used in blast furnaces for coke production and in the making of coal gas for illumination in the early 1800s. Natural gas found limited application in lighting. It was still not until well after mid-century that the total work output from engines exceeded that of work animals.

Manifest Destiny, or the westward expansion from the seacoast to the heart of the nation, was a major factor in the expanded use of coal. As railroads drove west to the plains and mountains, they left behind the plentiful wood resources along the east coast. Coal became more attractive as deposits were found along the railroad right-of-way, and it had a higher energy content than wood. This meant more train-miles traveled per pound of fuel. Demand for coal in coke production also rose because the railroads were laying thousands of miles of new track, and iron and steel were needed for the rails and spikes. The rapid growth of the transportation and industrial sectors was fueled by coal.

Coal ended the long dominance of wood in the United States about 1885, only to be surpassed in 1951 by petroleum and then by natural gas a few years later. Hydroelectric power and nuclear electric power appeared about 1890 and 1957, respectively. Solar photovoltaic, advanced solar thermal, and geothermal technologies represent further recent developments in energy sources.

Petroleum was initially used as an illuminant and an ingredient in medicines but was not used as a fuel for many years. At the end of World War I, coal still accounted for approximately 75% of the total U.S. energy use.

This situation changed, however, after World War II. Coal relinquished its place as the premier fuel in the United States as railroads lost business to trucks that operated on gasoline and diesel fuel. The railroads themselves began switching to diesel locomotives. Natural gas also started replacing coal in home stoves and furnaces. The coal industry survived, however, mainly because nationwide electrification created new demand for coal among electric utilities.

Most of the energy produced today in the United States comes from fossil fuels—coal, natural gas, crude oil, and natural gas plant liquids (see Figure 2-2) [11]. Although U.S. energy production takes many forms, the use of all fossil fuels far exceeds that of all other forms of energy. In 2000, fossil fuels accounted for 80% of total energy production and were valued at an estimated $148 billion [11].

For most of its history, the United States was self-sufficient in energy, although small amounts of coal were imported from Britain and Nova Scotia during colonial times. Through the late 1950s, production and consumption of energy were nearly in balance; however, beginning in the 1960s and continuing today, consumption outpaces domestic production (see Figure 2-3). This imbalance is further illustrated in Figure 2-4; in 2001, the United States produced approximately 72 quadrillion Btu but consumed nearly 97 quadrillion Btu, and crude oil imports totaled nearly 25 quadrillion Btu [11]. Because of its insatiable demand for petroleum, U.S. petroleum imports reached a

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