A 2016 study by the US Energy Information Administration found that Americans are using a more diverse mix of energy sources. The trend has implications for the future of energy use and costs in the United States, so it’s worth a closer look.

Coal’s on the Way Out and Nuclear’s Stagnant

In 2014 and 2015, coal power and nuclear electric power together supplied approximately 25 percent of US energy. But this figure is on the decline. Coal consumption dropped 12 percent between 2014 and 2015 and was the only energy source in the study to decline during that period. It’s now at its lowest level in more than 30 years.

Nuclear power consumption remained stagnant between 2014 and 2015, adding up to less than 10 percent of energy consumed. No nuclear power plants were added during this time, while several were retired in 2013 and 2014.

Good News for Natural Gas, Petroleum, and Renewables

Though coal and nuclear suffered in 2014 and 2015, American consumed more natural gas, petroleum, and renewable energy over that period of time. The natural gas had the highest increase in consumption and now represents 29 percent of all energy consumed in the United States.

Petroleum use also increased, in part due to low gas and diesel prices. Renewable energy resources were on the uptick as well, especially in the electrical power supply. Wind power experienced the biggest gains between 2014 and 2015, growing by an impressive 31 percent. Solar also grew, though hydroelectric power declined due to drought in the Western United States.

The Big Picture of US Energy Consumption

While individual energy sources increased or decreased between 2014 and 2015, overall energy consumption continued to decrease overall. The 12 percent drop in coal consumption outpaced the increase in natural gas, petroleum, and renewables during this time. The decline reflects a long trend in energy consumption, one that experts believe will continue in the future.

What does this mean for your business? If petroleum remains cheap and natural gas remains plentiful, you’ll likely get a break at the gas pump for fueling your fleet and on your property’s utility bills. You’ll also increasingly have the chance to save money by switching to renewables as they gain in popularity and enjoy a larger market share.

For more information on the current US energy market and to discover if you’re paying too much for energy at your facility, contact the experts at SM Engineering today.

Satya Garg graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1968 with an MS in Mechanical Engineering. He is a registered Professional Mechanical and Electrical Engineer in Minnesota. Prior to starting SM Engineering in 1982, Mr. Garg was Manager of Engineering for Planmark, a subsidiary of Super Valu Stores. After graduating from University of Minnesota, Mr. Garg started his career with “Michand Cooley, Hallberg, Erickson & Associates”, one of the most reputed consulting company in Minnesota. He had the opportunity to work with Robert Michand on many interesting projects such as Target stores, conceptual design of mechanical systems for IDS center and troubleshooting HVAC systems at IDS tower. Find him on Google+