Energy Efficiency Remains Key to the Success of America's Energy Sector
WASHINGTON (October 16, 2014) – The United States is reducing oil dependence, slowing the growth of electricity needs, and making energy services more affordable to all Americans--and our smarter use of energy is the single most important contributor to these positive trends, according to a report released today by the Natural Resources Defense Council.
"Despite what you may be hearing from a final onslaught of negative campaign ads, the security and affordability of America's energy services has never been better, and energy efficiency is the most important reason why," said Ralph Cavanagh, co-director of the NRDC energy program. "The latest data confirms that our consumption of energy, including oil and coal, remains well below its peak levels from a decade ago. However, we can and should do more."
NRDC's Second Annual Energy Report, "Positive Energy Trends Bode Well for U.S. Security and the Economy," isan extensive analysis of new government data on 2013 U.S. energy use that shows optimizing our energy use through efficiency continues to contribute more to meeting U.S. energy needs than any other resource, from oil and coal to natural gas and nuclear power.
"Efficiency helps America get more work out of less oil, natural gas, and electricity while pushing our economy forward and cutting residential, business, and industrial customers' bills," Cavanagh said. "Far less costly than adding other energy resources like fossil fuels that also create climate-changing pollution, efficiency saves the nation hundreds of billions of dollars annually, prevents millions of tons of carbon emissions, helps U.S. workers and companies compete worldwide, and increases our energy security."
The report notes the nation is already two-thirds of the way toward meeting President Obama's goal of cutting 3 billion tons of carbon pollution by 2030 through his administration's efficiency standards for appliances and federal buildings, which also will lower customer energy bills by more than $4 billion. Meanwhile, the government's proposed emissions standards for existing power plants would keep over 5.3 billion additional tons of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. But based on the nation's positive energy trends, the report says even larger reductions are feasible and cost-effective.
Other key findings:
ELECTRICITY: Thanks in large part to efficiency, the national growth rate for electricity consumption has dropped below that of the population for an extended period for the first time in modern history: From 2000 to 2013, electricity use rose by less than 7 percent, with an average annual growth rate of about 0.5 percent, even as the population grew by about twice that rate.
ENERGY EFFICIENCY: Efficiencyremains America's largest and most productive energy resource. The amount of energy required to produce an inflation-adjusted dollar of economic output dropped by almost 60 percent between 1970 and 2013, thanks to efficiency.
RENEWABLE ENERGY: Wind power continues to dominate the nation's renewable energy growth, with a 30-fold increase since 2000. In 2013, for the first time, wind provided more than 4 percent of all U.S. electricity. Meanwhile, non-hydro renewables (wind, solar, and geothermal) have surpassed total annual hydro generation.
OIL: Although the amount of oil used in America rose slightly in 2013 (about 1.5 percent), the total is still down almost 12 percent from its 2005 peak. Thanks to fuel economy and clean car standards, the government projects that U.S. oil consumption will decrease by 2.1 million barrels per day by 2025 -- more than the nation purchases now from any OPEC country. Lower consumption allows the United States to reduce its dependence on oil imports.
COAL: U.S. coal use has dropped from 1990 levels and is down more than one-fifth from the peak year of 2005, primarily due to the movement of utilities away from aging and uneconomic coal-burning power plants.
NATURAL GAS: Although natural gas raised its market share to a 40-year high in 2012, exceeding 30 percent of electricity generation, the figure dropped back to 27.5 percent last year. Natural gas generally has displaced coal for electricity production, but coal recovered some market share in 2013 after natural gas prices rose.
NUCLEAR: Nuclear generation remained below 19 percent of total electricity generation for the second consecutive year, and remains below the five-year average for 20062011.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Read the full report: http://www.nrdc.org/energy/energy-environment-report/default.asp
Read Ralph Cavanagh's blog here: http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/rcavanagh/
Copies of the graphs in the report also are available.