This week, the US Energy Information Agency said it expects 42 gigawatts of new power generating capacity to begin commercial operation by 2020. The new capacity will account for nearly 32 GW of solar and wind. Wind accounts for the largest proportion of these changes at 44%, solar at 32% and natural gas at 22%. The remaining 2 percent will come from battery storage and hydroelectric generators.
And here’s an unusual Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory statistic here. It says around two-thirds of all the energy used in America has been wasted as of 2018, mainly as heat from vehicle exhausts and industrial furnaces. Every bit of the energy extracted from fossil fuels, however, produces carbon emissions that add to global warming whether or not it is used well.
Only think what carbon cuts we’d see if we could remove all that wasted energy? One of the main benefits of electric vehicles is that they are two to three times more efficient than cars driven by gasoline or diesel.
Pew Research says that just as crucial as it is to derive electricity from wind and solar, it still accounts for only about 4 percent of total energy consumption in the US. “The bulk of the energy used in the US has derived from coal, oil, and natural gas as far back as we have records. Those fossil fuels fed about 80% of the nation’s energy demand in 2018, slightly down from 84% a decade before.
Thirty-eight percent of total energy consumption went to electricity generation. Here’s another shocking figure from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory: just 34.5 percent of the electric power generated electricity reaches end-users. The rest is lost while the power is being generated, transmitted and distributed.
Energy Use Per Capita falls
Pew Research says the amount of electricity per household used by Americans has been dropping in the last 20 years. Each person in the US used about 349.8 million Btu of energy in the year 2000. By 2017 that fell to 300.5 million Btu, the lowest in five decades.
The decline in the per capita use of energy has led to the US economy’s steadily decreasing energy-intense activity since the end of the Second World War. In 2018, this figure dropped to 5,450 Btu, which is 64 percent.
Solar power in the United States is rising dramatically. The amount of electricity in 2008 amounted to 2 billion kilowatt-hours. It produced 46 times more in 2018 — 93 billion kilowatt-hours. Nonetheless, the primary source of all energy consumed in the US is now fossil fuels. We must not only produce more power from renewable energies in order to resolve climate change effectively; we must also transform heating, cooling, the industry and electricity to transport. In the absence of this, we will all be doomed.