Key Statistics about America’s Energy Sector

January 20, 2016

America’s energy sector is as diverse as it is large. There are a multitude of energy sources that we rely on each day to power our existence and new alternative energy sources are continually being developed. Nevertheless, oil and gas are by far the most significant sources of energy in America. Let’s take a look at some key statistics surrounding oil and gas, and other energy sources such as coal and hydropower.

Statistics about Oil

Petroleum has always been, and still is the primary energy source in the country. The use of petroleum decreased during the 1970s in response to the energy crisis, but steadily began to rise again over the next few years. Oil made up 38% of the energy sector in 1950, rose to 45% in 1975, and decreased to 40% in the late 1970s.

In 2004, the price of petroleum began to rise rapidly, causing many places in the country to experience gas prices in excess of $4.00 a gallon. This was caused by a host of factors, but essentially boiled down to an issue of demand outstripping supply. In response the oil industry implemented new drilling technologies that allowed for economically viable recovery in less conventional areas. As a result oil prices have decreased.

Statistics about Natural Gas

Much like oil, natural gas has followed a similar trajectory. Natural gas is used in a plethora of ways and its share of the energy sector increased from 17% in 1950 to almost 30% in 1970. In recent times, this figure has dropped to almost 20%, partly due to other, newer sources of energy being utilized. The need to import natural gas into the country has essentially been eliminated, since coupled with new drilling technologies, the discovery of large shale deposits in various locations throughout the country has reduced foreign dependency.

The United States is projected to become a major exporter of natural gas by the year 2018.

Statistics about Coal

In recent times, coal has become one of the most controversial energy sources on the planet. With climate change becoming an increasingly popular issue, the cleanliness and efficiency of fossil fuels has been debated by a large segment of the population. As a result the use of coal has decreased over the last few decades. In 1950, coal accounted for 35% of the energy sector, nearly equal to oil, but dropped to 20% within the next decade. This figure has remained largely steady since then, but regulations have increased and could precipitate another major decline in coal use.

Currently, coal is used almost exclusively to generate electricity, but there are concerns about coal releasing large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This has led coal to being labeled one of the primary culprits of global warming. Despite these growing concerns, exports of American coal have increased over the last few years.

Statistics about Nuclear Power

Reaching its peak share of 20% in the 1990s, nuclear energy has experienced one of the sharpest declines in usage. During the oil crisis of the 1970s, it supplied almost 9% of America’s electricity, but increases in production costs and growing public concerns over safety led to the fall of the nuclear age. This decline was also caused by high-profile plant disasters like Chernobyl that exposed the potential dangers of nuclear energy to the world.

Statistics about Hydroelectric Energy

The use of hydroelectricity has also declined, dropping from 30% in 1950, to less than 10% in 2000. The use of water as an energy source does remain important in certain parts of the country. A major benefit of hydroelectric energy is that it is a renewable resource.

The Future of America’s Energy Sector

While alternative fuel sources have been proposed and developed including solar power, biofuel, wind power, and others, it remains unlikely that these fuel sources will supplant oil and gas in the near future, if at all. However, far from being dirty polluters, strides in fuel efficiency and refining techniques have allowed oil and gas to be cleaner and more environmentally friendly than ever before. STI Group is proud to service America’s energy sector with industrial services, fabrication, maintenance, and construction.