Nonfossil Fuel Propaganda Not Enough to Hide the Truth


NGLJim Willis on NGL Pipelines
Editor & Publisher, Marcellus Drilling News (MDN)

[Editor’s Note: EIA data shows nonfossil fuels have not made a significant dent in the complete dominance of fossil fuels energy sources and wind and solar aren’t even close]

Is our favorite government agency, the U.S. Energy Information Administration, being corrupted by the Biden White House? Maybe. The EIA published a post on their Today in Energy website yesterday to trumpet the fact that “nonfossil fuel sources” accounted for 21% of all energy consumed in the U.S. in 2020. The post should have had the headline that fossil energy provided 79% of all energy consumed in the U.S. last year. Yes, that was a new low for fossil energy (and a new high for nonfossil fuels) in the modern age, but not by much. We dug into the numbers and discovered a startling revelation: natural gas was the #1 source of energy consumed in the U.S. last year–even more than oil!

The 21% number trumpeted by the EIA is quite misleading. Of that number, so-called renewables (wind and solar) represented a piddly 4.4% of all energy consumed. If you read or watch the average braindead CNN story, you’d think wind and solar are just about finished with bumping off oil and gas as our primary energy sources. (We sure hope you don’t watch CNN–it will dumb you down.)

Let’s begin with the misleading EIA post that actually contains great news for fossil energy:

Primary energy consumption totaled 93 quadrillion British thermal units (quads) in the United States in 2020, or 7 quads less than in 2019. Fossil fuels—petroleum, natural gas, and coal—accounted for 79% of total U.S. energy consumption in 2020. About 21% of U.S. energy consumption in 2020 came from nonfossil fuel sources such as renewables and nuclear—the highest share since the early 1900s, according to data in our Monthly Energy Review.


During 2020, responses to the COVID-19 pandemic and other economic factors significantly reduced energy use in the United States. The 7 quad decline in U.S. energy consumption last year was the largest annual decrease on record. Almost all of this decline came from less consumption of fossil fuels, especially petroleum used for transportation and coal used for electricity generation. In 2020, U.S. fossil fuel energy consumption, totaling 73 quads, was at its lowest level since 1991.

Among U.S. nonfossil fuel energy sources, renewable energy consumption increased slightly from 11.4 quads in 2019 to a record high of 11.6 quads in 2020. Increases in consumption of renewables used for electricity generation, including wind and solar energy, were partially offset by declines in biofuel consumption in the transportation sector. U.S. nuclear energy consumption totaled 8.2 quads in 2020, the lowest level since 2013.

Petroleum has been the most-consumed energy source in the United States since surpassing coal in 1950. U.S. petroleum consumption remains below its 2005 peak, and in 2020, it totaled 32.2 quads. U.S. natural gas consumption totaled 31.5 quads in 2020, a slight decline from the previous year but the second-highest level of natural gas consumption in the United States on record.

U.S. coal consumption fell to 9.2 quads in 2020, the lowest level in 116 years. U.S. coal consumption has fallen by more than half since its peak in 2005; reduced use in the electric power sector has driven much of this decline.


Our Monthly Energy Review’s pre-1949 estimates of U.S. energy use are based on two sources: Sam Schurr and Bruce Netschert’s Energy in the American Economy, 1850–1975: Its History and Prospects and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Circular No. 641, Fuel Wood Used in the United States 1630–1930.

Appendix D of our Monthly Energy Review compiles these estimates of U.S. energy consumption in 10-year increments from 1635 through 1845 and 5-year increments from 1845 through 1945. Data for 1949 through the present day are available in the latest Monthly Energy Review.

Principal contributor: Owen Comstock

Did you catch that second graph that shows burning wood provided more energy in the U.S. in 2020 than solar (“all other”)? Sometimes the truth is brutal. Wood provided almost as much energy as wind last year. How many billions (trillions) have we blown on nonfossil solar and wind? And with all that money spent, throwing a log in the woodstove still produces more energy in the U.S. Be careful wood burners–the Commie Left is coming for your wood stove. No, we’re not joking.

We pulled the EIA raw data showing primary energy production by source. Let’s break down the 2020 numbers by percentages, instead of raw quadrillion Btus. In 2020, the following sources provided the following percentages of energy in the U.S. (all figures rounded):

Fossil Fuels – 79%

Coal – 11%
Natural gas (dry) – 36%
Crude oil – 25%
NGLs – 7%

Nuclear – 9%

Renewables – 12%

Hydroelectric – 3%
Geothermal – 0%
Solar – 1%
Wind – 3%
Biomass – 5%

The real story here is that dry and wet natural gas together provided 43% of all the energy we consumed last year. Tell us again how we’ll be all renewables in the next 20 years. Ain’t….gonna….happen.

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