Fossil fuels will still dominate U.S. landscape

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Even with renewable energy consumption at a historic high, fossil fuels are by far the dominant source for U.S. consumption, a federal review found.

Growth in wind and solar power is to the point that last year U.S. renewable energy consumption was at its highest level in more than 80 years at roughly 10 percent of the total consumption. Fossil fuel consumption, meanwhile, fell to its lowest share in the past century last year, but still dominates the landscape.

“Three fossil fuels — petroleum, natural gas, and coal — have provided more than 80 percent of total U.S. energy consumption for more than 100 years,” a daily brief from the U.S. Energy Information Administration read.

With power plants shifting to natural gas, as more communities rely on renewables, EIA found coal was nonetheless on a dramatic decline. Coal consumption last year fell 13 percent, the steepest drop for any fossil fuel in a half century.

Lower crude oil prices means cheaper fuel for U.S. consumers. Motor club AAA said more than 40 million people will travel during the Fourth of July holiday weekend, the highest number on record if its forecast is accurate. For Memorial Day, the first long holiday weekend of the year for the United States, AAA said more than 38 million people were expected to travel, the highest number for that weekend since 2005.

Consumer habits beyond driving may be influenced by lower fuel prices as some regional data in the United States show more people buying trucks and sports utility vehicles than cars. The International Energy Agency said it expects a record-setting 1.26 million electric vehicles to be on the road by the end of the year, though the EV market now accounts for about 0.1 percent of the global market share for vehicles.

The EIA found consumption of petroleum in the United States remains more or less stable through 2040, with fossil fuels expected to account for about 76.6 percent of total demand.