EIA Charts Fossil Fuel and Petroleum Products Source and Sector “Spaghetti”
In 2020, power plants used more than triple the amount of fossil fuels consumed by all residential buildings in the U.S.
In early May, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) released charts illustrating the country’s fossil fuel and petroleum products consumption during 2020. The charts show the share of fossil fuels and petroleum products consumed by each of the following sectors: transportation, industrial, residential, commercial, and electric power.
The charts’ “spaghetti” strings of consumption reveal not only how intertwined petroleum products are throughout the U.S. economy, but also how fossil fuel-dependant the electric power sector truly is. While the transportation sector remains the leading consumer of fossil fuels, accounting for 23.0 quadrillion Btu of energy use, electric power is a close second with 20.4 quadrillion Btu. That’s 28 percent of total U.S. fossil fuel consumption and more than triple the 5.8 quadrillion Btu used by the entire residential sector.
Furthermore, coal — one of the dirtiest energy sources in the U.S. — accounts for 40 percent of the electric power sector’s fossil fuel consumption. Electric power accounts for 90 percent of all U.S. coal consumption. In other words, if it weren’t for power plants, the U.S. would have almost no use for coal.
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5. Electricity comes from fossil fuels like coal and natural gas.
4. Power plants use much more fossil fuel than homes and businesses do.
3. One-fifth of all fossil fuel used in the U.S. is used for generating electricity.
2. If not for electrical power’s fossil fuel dependency, the U.S. would use 90% less coal.
1. If you combined all the fossil fuels used by every home in the country, it would still be less than one-third of all the fossil fuels used by U.S. power plants.