Fossil fuel consumption in the U.S. - statistics & facts

The story of fossil fuels began millions of years ago when ancient organisms died and were gradually buried by layers of rock and sediment. As these layers grew thicker, the organic matter was subjected to intense heat and pressure. The remains of plants and organisms can be chemically altered by this process and changed into substances known as coal, crude oil, and natural gas. These are the three main types of fossil fuels. They are still necessary to help meet the energy and electricity demands of many countries. The energy demand in the U.S. is largely covered by fossil fuels, although, the capacity of renewables has increased in the last decade.

Coal usage

Today, fossil fuel industries drill or mine for these energy sources, burn them to produce electricity, or refine them for use as fuel for heating or transportation. Coal was the first fuel exploited by humans for energy on a large scale, it is a black or brownish-black carbonaceous rock formed from dead trees and other plants. Coal is classified into four main types: anthracite, bituminous, sub-bituminous, and lignite. The U.S. is the third largest coal consumer worldwide. The country's electric power sector was responsible for 8.3 quadrillion British thermal units of coal consumed in 2020. However, the use of coal has notably decreased in recent years, while coal’s producer price index had roughly doubled since 1982.

Crude oil and natural gas usage

Crude oil and gas were formed from dead marine organisms. After crude oil is removed from the ground, it is sent to a refinery where different parts of the crude oil are separated into various petroleum products. Crude oil is often used to fabricate liquid-fuel products like gasoline, diesel fuel, and heating oil. The transportation sector is by far the largest consumer of petroleum products in the U.S. Unlike coal, petroleum consumption has remained high, despite greater concerns over its impact on the climate.
Meanwhile, natural gas has overtaken coal as the main fuel for U.S. electricity generation. In order to meet consumer demand, the U.S. imported some 2.6 billion cubic feet of natural gas in 2020.

Interesting statistics

In the following 6 chapters, you will quickly find the 25 most important statistics relating to "Fossil fuel consumption in the U.S.".


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