Gap between US energy production and consumption now biggest ever

Production in 2023 rose by 4%, while energy consumption eased by 1%.

Coal consumption fell by 17% as electricity production for the nation’s power grid moves to other sources. Credit: imaginima.

The amount of energy the US produces compared with the amount it consumes has reached it widest-ever gap since official records began, data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) has revealed.

Production outpaced consumption by nine quadrillion British thermal units (Btu) in 2023, according to the energy body’s analysis, the widest margin since 1949.

Energy production rose by 4% to hit a record of nearly 103Btu, while energy consumption eased by 1%, according to the organization, which is responsible for assessing and disseminating energy information.

The rise seen last year was driven primarily by large increases in natural gas and crude oil production.

Gas production jumped 4% in 2023 on the year, and by 58% since 2013. Meanwhile, crude oil production is up 9% from 2022, and by 69% since 2013.

The production of natural gas plant liquids (a byproduct of natural gas production) rose by 8% from 2022, and has increased by 143% since 2013.

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However, renewable energy production only rose 1% on the year, hitting 8Btu. This is a rise of 28% since 2013.

Solar energy jumped 15% on the year, with wind production actually falling 2%, according to the EIA.

Overall energy consumption did fall slightly in 2023, with coal consumption decreasing by 17%, its lowest level in more than a century, as electricity production for the nation’s power grid moves to other sources.

Research from US law firm Troutman Pepper has indicated that to make clean hydrogen a viable energy source in the country, greater clarity on tax credits is critical.

Clean hydrogen can play a crucial role in tackling climate change by enabling the decarbonisation of energy intensive sectors.

The report argues that the US should boost exports to provide additional routes to market, bolster domestic manufacturing for hydrogen technologies and prioritise ‘backbone’ infrastructure to reduce project risk.

To stimulate the development of hydrogen infrastructure, the Biden administration granted $7bn in funding last year for the construction of hydrogen hubs in 16 states. By 2050, the US wants to produce 50 million tonnes of clean or ‘green’ hydrogen, a fivefold increase from today.

According to data from Offshore Technology’s parent company, GlobalData, renewables are expected to hold a 55% generation share in North America by 2035, with solar PV and onshore wind accounting for 24% and 17%, respectively.

Hydropower will remain the largest source of renewable power, but solar, wind and biopower additions will boost renewable generation to 68% in 2035.

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Ed Pearcey