Via the awesome mistermix at Balloon Juice comes some good news for a change.
Namely: Suck it Big Oil and King Coal. We don’t need your lying cheating cold deadbeating, two timing double dealing mean mistreating polluting energy source!
Analysts at the Department of Energy's Lawrence Livermore Labs have run the numbers on the US energy use in 2009, and come up with similar results to those obtained when examining the country's carbon emissions: energy use is dropping at a pace that is faster than would be expected based on the slowing economy alone. Even better, the growth in renewable energy, coupled with increased use of natural gas, is displacing significant amounts of coal.
According to the Livermore analysts, both economics and higher-efficiency appliances and vehicles helped push down the energy use last year, dropping consumption from 2008's 99 Quads. Coal and petroleum use both declined significantly (coal was down by 10 percent), with more efficient vehicles accounting for much of the latter. Lowered electricity use accounted for much of coal's drop, as did displacement by natural gas. But total natural gas use also dropped, at least in part because solar, hydro, and geothermal power all increased slightly, and wind power increased significantly. It's now at 0.7 Quads, and on pace to clear a full Quad within the next couple of years.
Renewables and nuclear are now supplying nearly 17 percent of the country's annual supply of energy, a fraction that's likely to grow if current trends continue. And most indications are that the trends will continue. The US auto fleet's fuel efficiency is slated to rise over the next several years, and the Obama administration is pushing to approve further wind and solar projects.
Sluggish demand for oil is prompting oil companies to sell or shutter their refineries, as well. The energy transformation is happening, Cap and Trade or no.
I've been meaning to do an update on the Beale household's great solar experiment. Haven't had time to
pour pore through the numbers but I will say this: during the hottest most miserable summer I can remember, at a time when we had two extra people living in our house (our friends from India), we still have not paid an electric bill since March. And March's bill was, if I recall correctly, something in the neighborhood of $30.
(Tip of the cowboy hat to the late great Harlan Howard and his cowriter Kostas and the amazing Patty Loveless, who is a coal country girl and is actively trying to end the heinous practice of mountaintop removal mining from whence we get coal).