How It Works

The US Department of Energy

On 4 August 1977, the US Department of Energy was created to “ensure America’s Energy Future, Scientific & Technological Leadership, Nuclear Security and to resolve the environmental legacy of the cold war.”

Here’s some facts on the US’s energy consumption and generation:

1. Total energy consumption
In 2011, the US used 97.5 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu) of energy.

2. There is still a fossil fuel reliance
Nuclear, natural gas and coal are the most used sources in US energy consumption at almost 90% combined.

Types of non-renewable energy in the US:

Coal 39%
Natural gas 27%
Nuclear 19%

3. Renewable energy is the future
The use of renewable energy is rising. In 2013, renewable sources accounted for between 10-13 per cent of energy consumption. The Department of Energy are striving to increase this figure in future years. The US is now the second highest renewable energy producer in the world after China.

Types of renewable energy in the US:

Hydroelectric 52%
Wind 32%
Biomass (wood) 8%
Biomass (waste) 4%
Geothermal 3%
Solar 2%

4. There are hurdles to renewable energy consumption
The main lure of fossils fuels are the basic fact that they are simply more efficient and cheaper and easier to harness than non-renewable sources. Until we can find a way to increase renewable energy effectiveness (or make do with less readily available electricity), fossil fuels will continue to be burnt.

5. The future
Despite the setbacks, the US department of Energy still has a clear plan for a energy efficient future. Their aim is to:

-Make clean, low-cost, reliable solar energy available for home owners, communities, businesses, and government.

-Reduce emissions of greenhouse gas (GHG) and other pollutants.

-Create jobs through domestic solar manufacturing and distribution.

The US Department of Energy headquarters
The US Department of Energy headquarters