US energy consumption collapses to lowest level in three decades

The losses in electricity consumption were minimised due to an increase in residential use, a new report finds

The US primary energy use plummeted 7.8% in 2020, the largest year-on-year decline in energy consumption in at least three decades.

A new report by BloombergNEF and the Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE) shows energy demand from the transportation sector fell hardest, slipping 14.4% as Americans commuted and travelled less.

The findings of the report also show electricity demand declined the least, falling just 3.8% – commercial and industrial consumption drop was partly offset by the increase in domestic use because of the stay home and work from home order.

The analysis also suggests renewables made another record contribution to the grid with production rising 11% year-on-year and generating a fifth of US power in 2020, the study finds.

Power from all zero-carbon sources, including renewables and nuclear, set another record, meeting 40% of demand.

At the same time, coal-fired power’s contribution to the energy mix slipped to 19% from 45% a decade ago.

The report also finds natural gas remained the largest source of US power generation at 41%.

Emily Duncan, BCSE Chairman and Director of Federal Government Relations at National Grid, commented: “Given the business conditions resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic, we could not have fully imagined the resilience of these clean energy sectors and the growth that continued despite unprecedented headwinds.”

Heather Zichal, Chief Executive Officer of the American Clean Power Association (ACP), said: “The clean power industry is starting off the new decade on the right foot as we invest in American communities, add American jobs and help address the threat of climate change while delivering more and more clean, affordable electricity to meet demand from US homes and businesses.”

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