Fossil fuel energy consumption in the U.S. 1985-2021
Fossil fuel energies and their use todayFossil fuels are hydrocarbon-containing natural resources formed from the remains of dead plants or animals that have been subject to immense pressure from a buildup of layers over millions of years. There are three major forms of fossil fuels: coal, oil, and natural gas, which are sources of primary energy. The energy demand in the U.S. is largely covered by fossil fuels. In 2020, net electricity generation amounted to 4,009 terawatt hours. Natural gas is the most common fuel type used for electricity generation. Combined with the coal share, fossil fuels account for 60 percent of all power production in the country.
Apart from natural gas and coal consumed within the power sector, oil is one of the main energy sources in the U.S. The liquid is predominantly used in the transportation sector as it is refined into petroleum products such as gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel. Oil and natural gas also serve as feedstocks in the petrochemical industry and are the building blocks for a variety of products such as plastics.
Despite its prominent use since the Industrial Revolution, fossil fuels are finite resources and burning these fuels has severely impacted Earth's climate. Under the threat of climate change, the pollution caused by fossil fuels has put the whole industry under scrutiny. Burning any fossil fuel produces carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas which contributes to global warming.