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US primary energy consumption increased by 4% in 2018

18 Apr 2019

According to the United States Energy Information Administration (EIA), US primary energy consumption increased by 4% in 2018 and superseded the previous record set in 2007 by 0.3%. The 2018 energy consumption increase was the largest since 2010 both in absolute and percentage terms.

The main driver was the consumption of fossil fuels such as petroleum, natural gas, and coal as it grew by 4% in 2018 and accounted for 80% of the total primary energy consumption. More specifically, natural gas consumption rose by 10% from 2017, driven by weather-related factors and by the power sector (higher demand for space heating and for air conditionning and for power generation) and offset a 4% decline in coal consumption. Coal-fired power plants continued to be replaced with gas-fired power plants: in 2018, nearly 13 GW of coal-fired power capacity were retired, while 14.6 GW of net natural gas-fired capacity were added.

Renewable energy consumption rose by 3%, spurred by new wind and solar power plant installations: wind power consumption grew by 8%, while solar electricity consumption increased by 22%. Biomass consumption (mainly biomass for transport), which accounted for 45% of all renewable energy consumption in 2018, slightly increased in 2018 (+1%), while hydropower consumption declined by 3%. Nuclear consumption also posted a moderate increase in 2018 (+1%), despite a record for nuclear power generation.

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