Overall energy consumption in the United States totaled 100 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu) in 2019, only slightly less than the record set in 2018 and the third-highest level of annual U.S. energy consumption ever. About 20% of U.S. energy consumption in 2019 came from sources other than fossil fuels. Several energy sources hit record consumption values in 2019, based on data in the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) Monthly Energy Review: natural gas, nuclear, wind, and solar.
Increases in nuclear and renewables consumption in 2019 resulted in the nonfossil share rising to 20% of total U.S. energy consumption. As coal, petroleum, and natural gas were developed, the nonfossil share fell from 100% in the mid-1800s to 6% in the 1960s and has since slowly increased as consumption of nuclear, hydroelectricity, wind, biofuels, and solar have grown. U.S. fossil fuel consumption peaked at 86 quadrillion Btu in 2007 and has since fallen to 80 quadrillion Btu in 2019, a 7% decline.
Petroleum has been the most-consumed energy source in the United States since surpassing coal in 1950. U.S. petroleum consumption remains lower than its peak in 2005 and most recently totaled 36.7 quadrillion Btu in 2019.
U.S. renewable energy consumption in 2019 reached 11.5 quadrillion Btu, surpassing U.S. coal consumption for the first time in 130 years. The largest growth in renewables during the past decade has been solar and wind electricity generation.
In 2019, wind energy surpassed hydroelectricity to become the largest source of renewable energy consumption in the United States. The energy content of wind consumption in 2019 (2.7 quadrillion Btu) was nearly the same as the energy content of wood consumption in the mid- to late-1800s, when coal and petroleum fuels were first being developed and wood was the predominant energy source in the United States.
Note: Nuclear energy is usually considered another non-renewable energy source. Although nuclear energy itself is a renewable energy source, the material used in nuclear power plants is not.
The material most often used in nuclear power plants is the element uranium. Although uranium is found in rocks all over the world, nuclear power plants usually use a very rare type of uranium, U-235. Uranium is a non-renewable resource.
(Source: EIA/National Geographic)