Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) recently released its annual energy flow chart depicting the path from energy sources to their end-uses. The charts are developed using data from the Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration. The LLNL chart shows that this year, the presence of renewable energy sources has increased while the overall consumption of energy has declined. These trends are due to increased technological innovations that make current energy technologies more efficient, and progress in developing new, clean sources to replace fossil fuel sources.
Although the majority of U.S. energy still comes from coal and oil, overall consumption of both sources decreased in 2011. Natural gas consumption increased in large part as a result of sustained low prices throughout the year. Wind power and hydroelectricity both increased in 2011, due to the addition of new wind farms and high precipitation stocking hydroelectric dams in the Western U.S.
Despite the positive growth of energy efficiency and renewables, an enormous amount (more than half) of U.S. generated energy is rejected. Nearly all rejected energy comes from electricity generation and the transportation sector, which still run mostly on coal and petroleum. Improving efficiency of transportation technologies as well as electricity generation and transmission will reduce the amount of rejected energy. Achieving this will further diminish the U.S.’s energy consumption.