USA primary energy

There has been significant growth in gas production, primarily through hydraulic fracturing (fracking), and light tight oil. At the same time, concerns about climate change due to fossil fuels has resulted in some progress towards mitigation policies and subsidy-supported expansion of renewables potential.

The Climate Action Plan instigated by President Obama in 2008, with adaptations each two years, introduced federal tax incentives to move away from fossil fuel dependence towards a more long-term sustainable economy. This solid and effective plan was cancelled in 2017 by the current administration, beholden to climate sceptics and the vested interests of fossil fuel companies, but is likely to be reinstated when a less corrupt government returns. Despite the decrees of the fossil fuel industries at federal level, many of the states have maintained environmentally sustainable policies.

One of the financial incentives in favour of renewable energy is the PTC (Production Tax Credit), which in 2013 provided subsidies of 2.2 US-cent/kWh. This is only a fraction of the subsidies paid out to fossil fuels industries. Despite this unfair treatment, by 2016 renewables were the cheapest new energy source, and there were 74.5GW of wind energy generation capacity installed (second only to China), producing ca. 190 TWh of electricity.

Some USA energy statistics (2014)

  • Population: 319.17 million
  • GDP: 16,156 bn $
  • Energy production: 2012 Mtoe = 84.2 EJ = 84.2 x 1018 J *
  • Net imports: 258 Mtoe
  • TPES (Total Primary Energy Source): 2216 Mtoe
  • Electricity consumption: Total = 4137 TWh (12.96 MWh/cap)
  • CO2 emissions: 5176 Mt (16.22 t/cap)
  • CO2/TPES = 2.34 t/toe
  • CO2/GDP = 0.32 kg CO2/$ (2010)
  • TPES/capita: 6.94 toe/capita
  • TPES/GDP: 0.14 toe/$1000


* toe (tonne of oil equivalent) is the energy released by the combustion of one tonne of crude oil.

1.0 toe = 41.868 GJ = 11.63 MWh (1 Wh = 3600 joules @ 1J per second for one hour)

1.0 EJ (Ectajoule) = 1.0 x 1018 J =

1.0 billion GJ