The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory just released its annual energy flow charts, and the latest infographics reveal that Americans used more energy in 2013 from all sources — renewable, fossil and nuclear. In total, Americans used used an additional 2.3 quadrillion thermal units in 2013 compared to the previous year. With the increase in energy usage came a rise in carbon emissions to 5,390 million metric tons, which marks the first increase in CO2 pollution since 2010.
One positive sign for the environment was the increase in wind power generation. Wind energy grew 18 percent in 2013 to 1.6 quads. Solar energy generation also showed healthy growth, increasing from .26 quads in 2012 to .32 quads in 2013.
But the overall picture still shows the United States has a long way to go in terms of becoming more energy efficient and reducing the nation’s carbon footprint. 38 percent of carbon emissions were due to buildings amping up air conditioners during increasingly hotter summers as a result of global warming. 2013 was tied for the fourth warmest year on record, meaning those AC units were on full blast. 33 percent of carbon emissions came from the transportation sector, which still relies mostly on burning petroleum. Oil use increased from the previous year – at 35.1 quads it’s by far the most heavily used source of energy.
However, there is another bright spot to talk about, which is the increase of renewable energy in the transportation sector. Biofuels in particular have been steadily rising. “(The use of biomass converted to ethanol) has been going up over time,” said A.J. Simon, group leader for Energy at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. “We’re expecting the fraction of biomass in transportation to remain relatively steady.”
Via Tree Hugger
Images via Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory