Since the US is the second-largest energy consumer after China, it makes sense to wonder where all of its electricity comes from. The truth is that the United States gets its electricity from a variety of sources. A vast array of technologies produces it. These sources and technologies have changed tremendously over history, and nowadays, the largest energy sources for electricity in the US are fossil fuels, nuclear energy, and renewable energy sources.
The majority of electricity is generated through the usage of steam turbines. These turbines are powered by fossil fuels and nuclear, geothermal, and solar energy. Besides steam turbines, other technologies that are used most often are hydro turbines, wind turbines, gas turbines, and solar photovoltaics. With all that being said, fossil fuels such as petroleum, natural gas, and coal are the source of almost two-thirds of the electricity generated in the US.
In the past several decades, natural gas has convincingly solidified itself as the biggest source of energy in the United States. In 2016 it was the source of 33% of the entire amount of energy that was produced in the country. Since 2015, natural gas is also the biggest source of electricity in the US. Since 2009, the country has been the largest producer of natural gas in the world. Previously, that title belonged to Russia. IN the past decade, the production of natural gas in the United States reached an all-time high, increasing production by more than 50% when compared to 2005.
Since the country creates such large supplies of natural gas, its prices are much lower than in the rest of the world. When we combine this with the fact that natural gas leaves a smaller carbon footprint than coal, it makes sense that the amount of electricity generated from this source has been growing swiftly. However, while the United States produces the largest amounts of natural gas, it does not have the largest reserves of the energy source. The countries with higher reserves of it are Russia, Qatar, Turkmenistan, and Iran, meaning the US is in fifth place.
Coal and Petroleum
As a source of energy, coal is mostly used for electricity. However, its usage has seen a tremendous decline in recent years. For comparison’s sake, in 2005, more than 50% of electricity was provided by coal, but in 2019, that number dropped to 23.5%. The United States is an exporter of coal, selling the majority of it to Europe. Throughout the history of the country, coal has been used to provide electricity to the country. This started in 1882 when an Edison plant was placed in New York City.
According to multiple recent surveys, oil is considered to be one of the biggest sources of energy in the US. Throughout its rich history, the country was a large global influence on the oil market and oil reserves. In the 20th century, petroleum became one of the most important sources for heating and electricity. This is mostly for the industrial and commercial sectors. While petroleum is an extremely important source of energy, it is responsible for only 0.5% of produced electricity.
Other Sources Of Electricity
Among other sources of electricity, nuclear power is the most dominant. It is responsible for almost 20% of the electricity produced in the country. Renewable sources of energy amounted to 17.5% of the electricity that was produced in 2019. The majority of that percentage was divided between hydropower and wind. However, other renewable energy sources that should be mentioned are biomass, such as wood and solar energy.