U.S. Energy Sources and Uses – 2020

electrical transmission pylon

The U.S. Energy Information Agency publishes an annual two-page report which shows what types of energy we use, and how we use it. This one graph explains a great deal about how our economy and our politics works.

US energy sources and uses 2020

Key Take-Aways

Energy TypeHow We Use That Type of Energy

35% of sources
68% of petroleum is used as motor fuels. Transportation.
26% of petroleum is used in industry, mostly as feedstock for petrochemicals and plastics

Natural Gas

31% of sources
38% of natural gas is used for electricity generation
33% of natural gas is used in industry for process heat and feedstock for materials like fertilizer
25% of natural gas is used to heat homes and commercial buildings

12% of sources
60% of renewables is used for electricity generation (hydro power)
20% of renewables is used by industry
7% of renewables are used by households
2% of renewables are used by commercial operations

10% of sources
90% of coal is used for electricity generation

9% of sources
100% of nuclear is used for electricity generation


There are a few important things we can readily ascertain from this sources and uses summary. They are:

  • Most petroleum gets used for motor transport. If we convert to electric vehicles (EV), 68% of our petroleum use stops. If the rest of the world also converts to EVs, petroleum would get used mostly to make plastic and lubricants. Oil won’t matter anymore.
  • If we transition to EVs we’re going to need a lot more electricity. 56% of the energy used for electricity currently comes from fossil fuels.
  • Most of our country’s contribution to atmospheric C02 comes from electricity generation and transportation.
  • Renewables are the cheapest source of electricity. Renewables include hydro, solar and wind power
  • To reduce C02 emissions, we need way more wind and solar renewables, and we need them now

Shocking Waste

There’s one more rather shocking item to learn: 65% of the energy we use for electricity is wasted at the point of generation or during transmission to its destination.

The Official EIA Report

Here’s a link to the official U.S. Energy Information Agency report that I used as source material for this posting.

Author: Tom Pfotzer
I'm a retired I.T. worker who runs a farm. Like many of us, I'm trying to figure out how to respond to the slow-motion environmental and economic collapse we're engulfed in. I want to work with people who understand what's going on and are ready to do something about it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *