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Total Energy by Type
Thoughts on an eia article and energy consumption
The eia article, Nonfossil fuel energy sources accounted for 21% of U.S. energy consumption in 2022 (June 29, 2023), includes the graph copied here in Figure 1.
To begin, it is important to keep in mind that it may take some time to comprehend these stacked-type graphs. Next, we must be careful not to confound the term “renewable energy” with the phrase “nonfossil fuels” that appears in the title. It is also simple to skim the text on the right-hand side of this graph and come to the conclusion that renewable sources of energy like wind, biofuels, and hydroelectricity account for 21% of our overall energy consumption. Let's take a look at the values that are marked with a green color.
According to the eia's website on total energy, in 2022 the energy produced by nuclear was 8 quadrillion btu (QB), the energy produced by biomass was 4.9 QB, the energy produced by wind was 3.8 QB, the energy produced by hydroelectricity was 2.3 QB, the energy produced by solar was 1.9 QB, and the energy produced by geothermal was 0.2 QB. Biomass, which consists primarily of wood, is capable of producing almost as much energy as the wind and solar combined. To put it another way, despite the fact that wind and solar power have been expanding, they still only account for 5.7% of our overall energy usage.
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I have already mentioned that solar energy has a few drawbacks, and wind power also has its challenges. In the meantime, nuclear power continues to provide more energy than wind and solar, at 8%, despite the fact that the average age of a nuclear power plant is almost 40 years old and the second most recent nuclear power facility went online in 1996. The most recent nuclear plant went online in the state of Tennessee in 2016.
Geothermal energy does not even account for a quarter of one percent of our total energy usage, whereas hydroelectricity is a reliable but non-expanding source of power. Personally, I have a hard time believing that solar and wind can run the U.S. or even contribute half of our total energy use. If this is true, then what is plan B?
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