Americans Use Less Energy Due to Recession

Los Angeles, Aug 26 (IANS): American citizens are using less energy and making more use of renewable energy resources due to the economic recession and technological advances, a national laboratory report has said.

The use of coal, petroleum and natural gas in the US dropped in 2009 than in 2008, the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in California said.

Americans significantly used more alternative energy sources, including wind, solar, hydrothermal and geothermal power, Xinhua reported citing the LLNL statement.

The estimated US energy use in 2009 was 94.6 quadrillion British Thermal Units (BTU), down from 99.2 quadrillion BTUs in 2008.

A British Thermal Unit is a unit of measurement for energy, and is equivalent to about 1.055 kilojoules, or about the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit.

Energy use in the residential, commercial, industrial and transportation arenas all declined.

Wind power increased dramatically in 2009 compared to 2008. Most of that energy was tied to electricity generation and helped decrease the use of coal for electricity production.

Nuclear energy use remained relatively flat in 2009. No new plants were added and the existing fleet operated slightly less than in 2008.

However, the consumption dip doesn't necessarily reflect a sea change in the way Americans think about and use energy.

Rather, the decrease is due to the current economic downturn as well as advances in technology, the LLNL said.

"Energy use tends to follow the level of economic activity, and that level declined last year," said A.J. Simon, an energy systems analyst for LLNL. "At the same time, higher efficiency appliances and vehicles reduced energy use even further."

While data on the country's carbon emissions from last year is yet to be released, Simon suspects they will tell a similar story. A 2009 study by the International Energy Agency found that the world's carbon emissions fell sharply that year.


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