In 2020, consumption of renewable energy in the United States grew for the fifth year in a row, reaching a record high of 11.6 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu), or 12% of total U.S. energy consumption. Renewable energy was the only source of U.S. energy consumption that increased in 2020 from 2019; fossil fuel and nuclear consumption declined. Our U.S. renewable energy consumption by source and sector chart shows how much renewable energy by source each sector consumes.
We convert sources of energy to common units of heat, called British thermal units (Btu), to compare different types of energy that are usually measured in units that are not directly comparable, such as gallons of biofuels compared with kilowatthours of wind energy.
We use a fossil fuel equivalence to calculate primary energy consumption of noncombustible renewables (wind, hydro, solar, and geothermal), which are not burned to generate electricity and therefore do not have an inherent Btu conversion rate. In this approach, we convert the noncombustible renewables from kilowatthours to Btu using the annual weighted-average Btu conversion rate for all fossil fuels burned to generate electricity in the United States during that year to estimate the amount of fossil energy replaced by these renewable sources.
We use the fossil fuel equivalency approach to report noncombustible renewables’ contribution to total primary energy, in part, because the resulting shares of primary energy are closer to the shares of generated electricity. This calculation also represents the energy that would have been consumed if the electricity from renewable sources had instead been generated by a mix of fossil fuels.
Wind energy, or electricity generated by wind-powered turbines, is almost exclusively consumed in the electric power sector. Wind energy accounted for about 26% of U.S. renewable energy consumption in 2020. Wind surpassed hydroelectricity in 2019 to become the single most-consumed source of renewable energy on an annual basis. In 2020, U.S. wind energy consumption grew 14% from 2019.
Hydroelectric power, or electricity generated by water-powered turbines, is almost exclusively consumed in the electric power sector. It accounted for about 22% of U.S. renewable energy consumption in 2020. U.S. hydropower consumption has remained relatively flat since the 1970s, but it fluctuates with seasonal rainfall and drought conditions.
Wood and waste energy, including wood, wood pellets, and biomass waste from landfills, accounted for about 22% of U.S. renewable energy consumption in 2020. Industrial, commercial, and electric power facilities use wood and waste as a fuel to generate electricity, produce heat, and manufacture goods.
Biofuels, including fuel ethanol, biodiesel, and other renewable fuels, accounted for about 17% of U.S. renewable energy consumption in 2020. U.S. biofuel consumption fell 11% from 2019 as overall transportation sector energy use declined in the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Solar energy accounted for about 11% of U.S. renewable energy consumption in 2020. Solar photovoltaic (PV) cells, including rooftop panels, and solar thermal power plants use sunlight to generate electricity. Some residential and commercial buildings use solar heating systems to heat water and the building. Overall, 2020 U.S. solar consumption increased 22% from 2019.
Principal contributor: Mickey Francis
U.S. ambassador insists America remains the top foreign policy actor in the Middle East
The U.S. Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates Martina Strong believes the U.S. is unequivocally the most important foreign policy actor in the Middle East.
Her comments come roughly one year after President Joe Biden threatened “consequences” for Saudi Arabia after the OPEC kingpin slashed oil production along with its allies against Washington’s wishes.
The U.S. is seeking to orchestrate a delicate balancing act in the region, particularly as it pushes for the normalization of ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia and responds to China’s growing influence.
Saudi Arabia has recently shown signs of steering toward China and Russia after rekindling relations with Iran through Beijing-mediated talks and receiving an invitation to join the emerging economies’ BRICS alliance.
Asked by CNBC’s Dan Murphy whether the U.S. remained the most important foreign policy actor in the region, Strong replied, “Absolutely. I have no doubt about it. Our leadership is really unquestioned and apparent in every, I would say, region of the world — and this is no different.”
Strong said the U.S. is “working very closely together with the UAE and with our other partners here in the region on our core national security priorities as well as our national economic priorities.”
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman (L), India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi (C) and U.S. President Joe Biden attend a session as part of the G20 Leaders’ Summit at the Bharat Mandapam in New Delhi on September 9, 2023.
Evelyn Hockstein | Afp | Getty Images
“When it comes to security, President Biden has put forward a very positive, strong vision for our cooperation with the region. It’s based on diplomacy, it’s based on deterrence, de-escalation and, at the end of all this, of course, is prosperity,” she added.
“We’ve been doing that successfully here in the UAE for over 50 years, and we look forward to doing so for many years to come. I would say what is perhaps unique about our partnership with the UAE is how future-oriented and forward-looking that partnership is.”
— CNBC’s Ruxandra Iordache contributed to this report.
Indian energy minister warns of ‘organized chaos’ if oil tops $100 per barrel
Oil prices surged to their highest level in more than a year on Thursday. The U.S. West Texas Intermediate futures reached $95.03 per barrel, marking the highest cost since August 2022.
Manan Vatsyayana | Afp | Getty Images
India’s minister of petroleum and natural gas warned that there’ll be “organized chaos” if oil prices break above $100 per barrel, but said the South Asian nation is well positioned to weather higher costs.
“If the price goes above $100, it’s not going to be in the interest of either the producing country or anyone’s interest. You will have large, organized chaos,” Hardeep Singh Puri told CNBC’s Dan Murphy during a panel at the ADIPEC oil and gas conference in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on Tuesday.
But “you should not be worrying about the impact on India. India’s a large economy that has a lot of domestic production. We’ll cut back, we’ll do something or the other,” Puri said.
Last week, oil prices surged to their highest levels in more than a year with U.S. West Texas Intermediate futures hitting $95.03 per barrel. Prices have since pulled back, standing at $89.44 a barrel in Wednesday morning trade in Asia.
While Puri was confident that India could navigate higher prices, he warned that other nations may not be able to do so.
“I would worry about what happens to other parts of the developing world … that is really a worrying point,” Puri said, highlighting that rising prices in the last 18 months have placed “100 million people into abject poverty.”
“They had to go from reasonably priced gas and cooking fuels [to] wet wood, coal or whatever they could get. That is the problem.”
Hardeep Singh Puri, India’s minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas, at the ADIPEC conference in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2023.
Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images
The minister said on X, the social media platform previously known as Twitter, that oil producers need to be mindful of the struggles consuming countries face.
“During the pandemic, when crude oil prices crashed, the world came together to stabilize the prices to make it sustainable for the producers. Now, as the world is at cusp of economic recession & slowdown, oil producers need to show [the] same sensitivity towards the consuming countries,” he said in a post.
Puri also said the major energy challenge the world faces is addressing the “trilemma” of availability, affordability and sustainability. He claimed that India has “done well” on energy availability and affordability.
While India — the world’s third-largest oil importer and consumer — set a net-zero goal for 2070, other large economies have far earlier targets. China aims to reach carbon neutrality by 2060. Japan and the U.S. have targets for 2050.
Still, Puri reiterated how India’s sustainable energy transition is taking place at a “more comprehensive scale” and faster than what was originally anticipated.
“When prices shoot up, people’s resolve to transition works faster … There’s a realization that we’ve got to get off our backsides and do things which are important.”
Quick Charge Podcast: October 3, 2023
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