Sunday, October 28, 2012

Efficiency shows US the way

Americans used less energy in 2011 than in the previous year, due mainly to a shift to higher-efficiency energy technologies in the transportation and residential sectors. Meanwhile, less coal was used but more natural gas was consumed according to the most recent energy flow charts released by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Wind power saw the biggest jump from .92 quadrillion BTU, or quads, in 2010 up to 1.17 quads in 2011. Hydroelectricity also saw an increase going from 2.51 quads in 2010 up to 3.17 quads in 2011.
Hydroelectricity jumped significantly in 2011 because 2011 saw large amounts of precipitation in the Western U.S.
The majority of energy use in 2011 was used for electricity generation (39.2 quads), followed by transportation, industrial, commercial and residential consumption. However, energy use in the residential, commercial and transportation sectors decreased while industrial energy use increased if only slightly.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the nation’s solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity now exceeds 3.5 GW. This figure is the result of a new system at the EIA for estimating the lower bound on total installed PV capacity. The figure includes both utility and customer-scale installations. The latter was not captured in previous estimates.
Of this 3.5 GW of installed solar PV, about 30% of it is considered utility-scale solar. The remaining 70% is found in consumer-sited installations, including commercial/industrial (42%) and residential (28%). These data will give researchers the ability to more accurately track small-scale solar grown in the United States. Though, these data will still not capture off-grid PV systems.

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