Commercial, industrial sectors used less energy in 2015, national lab finds - Smart Energy Decisions

Commercial, Energy Efficiency, Industrial, Solar, Wind  -  April 27, 2016

Commercial, industrial sectors used less energy in 2015, national lab finds


Commercial and industrial uses of energy declined in 2015 compared to the prior year when excluding petroleum use, according to the most recent energy flow charts released by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. 

The laboratory releases energy flow charts that illustrate the nation's consumption and use of energy every year. Overall, according to a recent announcement from the lab, Americans used 0.8 quadrillion BTU, or quads, less in 2015 than in 2014.  A BTU or British Thermal Unit, is a unit of measurement for energy; 3,600 BTU is equivalent to about 1 kWh.

Looking at fuel sources, the lab reported that renewable energy use continues to grow, with utility-scale solar leading the pack, up 25% in 2015 compared to 2014, according to the charts. Wind energy use was up 5%, geothermal energy was up 11% and residential solar energy was up 11% in 2015. 

Natural gas use increased by 3% to 28.3 quads, while coal use decreased by 12% to 15.7 quads, the lab found. 

"The drop in coal consumption is almost entirely due to the electricity sector, which continues to use more natural gas, in favor of coal,” said A.J. Simon, group leader for LLNL’s energy program. "In fact, much of the overall decrease in energy consumption can be traced to the shift from coal to gas, because modern gas-fired plants may use up to 46% less energy to produce the same amount of electricity.”

The majority of energy use in 2015 was used for electricity generation (38 quads, down slightly from 2014), followed by transportation, industrial, residential and commercial, the lab said. The residential, commercial and industrial sectors used less energy in 2015, except for petroleum use, which increased by 2%. 
The laboratory noted that not all the energy consumed is put to use and accounts for the rejected energy, according to the charts. The country wasted 1% less energy in 2015,  going from 59.4 quadrillion BTU in 2014 down to 59.1 quads in 2015. That decrease, according to Simon, is tied to the increase in efficiency of the electricity production sector, such as large solar farms in the desert,.

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