1776-2012: Main sources of energy in the U.S. since the first Independence Day

Energy use in the USA since 1776
Public Domain EIA

4th of July edition!

Birthdays are a good time to look back and reflect on the road traveled thus far. On July 4th, the U.S. is celebrating one more year, so why not look back at how the country's energy usage has evolved over time? On the graph above, based on data compiled by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, you can clearly see all the major trends of the past 2+ centuries.

236 years of Energy consumption

For the first 100 years, the country pretty much ran on wood, a renewable resource. Coal then started to rise up, eventually dominating by the end of the 1800s. Then it was oil and natural gas that spiked up rapidly, supercharging the industrial revolution. You can clearly see the impact of the oil crisis in the 1970s, and the rise of nuclear power, hitting a plateau rather quickly compared to other energy sources. Hydro's never had a big spike upward, but it's been dependable, and renewables are starting to really perk up (hopefully they'll keep spiking up rapidly in coming years, kind of like petroleum did in the early 1900s).

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brightsource solar thermal tower photo


See also: The Seychelles islands get their first wind farm (6MW) to replace dirty diesel generators

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