Consumer Energy Report is now Energy Trends Insider -- Read More »

By Robert Rapier on Sep 20, 2014 with 28 responses

The Most Consumed Fuel by State


I saw a very interesting graphic several days ago that shows the most consumed fuel in every state in the US:

Most Consumed Fuel by State

Image Credit: Movoto

In 49 of 50 states, fossil fuels were the most consumed fuel. South Carolina was the single exception, where nuclear power was the most consumed fuel.

Coal consumption predominates in coal-producing states like West Virginia, Kentucky, and Wyoming, while unsurprisingly oil is the most consumed fuel in Texas. In fact, oil is the most consumed fuel in more than half of the US (although Michigan seems to be broken into North and South Michigan), including in states that we typically identify as the “greenest.”

Despite the inroads made by renewable energy in recent years, I suspect it’s going to be a while before you see renewable power make an appearance on a graphic like this. Actually that may not be true in some states with significant hydropower, where that already makes up a significant fraction of electrical generation.

Link to Original Article: The Most Consumed Fuel by State

By Robert Rapier. You can find me on TwitterLinkedIn, or Facebook.

  1. By Forrest on September 21, 2014 at 7:44 am

    I was playing around with EIA 2012 data for Michigan

    The large majority of are power from coal and nuclear about equal parts.

    NG storage the largest in nation, cost is -25% per U.S. average

    Consumption in Trillion BTU, 800 NG, 625 coal, 513 gasoline, 300 nuclear, 140 biomass, 110 renewable (36 biofuel). But add diesel/fuel oil 150, gasoline 513, jet 21 and other 64 = 748 or almost topping NG use.

    Residential, commercial, industrial, and transport sectors all use equal share of energy.

    It’s interesting and haven’t found the mistake per data, coal is only used per power generation. The state used 622 trillion Btu of coal and generated 3,836 Gwh per this coal fuel. Convert the power generated back to Btu and arrive at 13 TBtu. We did sell 24 TBtu power out of state that is produced by all fuel sources, but does this reflect back on how horribly inefficient the grid energy system is? With stats like these, it would be foolish to utilize traditional fuel to power grid to do anything other than small electrical devices. Meaning powering cars, heating, cooling would be very wasteful regardless of end user equipment efficiencies. Why put bio fuel within steam boiler for power generation if we haven’t maxed out the fuel source for home heating needs that operate at 70% efficiency per modern EPA designs stoves? Also, for maximum use of natural resources we could save a ton per designing equipment for end user on site power generation whereupon we can displace grid power and do so while enjoying very high efficiencies of CHP. On site NG consumption should center around eliminating as much grid power as possible for environmental benefits. Forget the excitement per bumping up light bulb efficiencies as we should concentrate on eliminating electric grid power as an energy source.

    • By Forrest on September 21, 2014 at 8:58 am

      Also, is it a bit outrageous for commercial to consume equally to households. Meaning we spend a few hours per week shopping or eating as opposed to living in residences. Quite a few live by themselves. That should be a hot button issue of energy use. Transportation efficiency is not the end all, beat all concerns of energy use as the sector consumption about equal to industry, commercial, and residential. Space heating upon U.S. is an energy hog, especially when adding hot water. What better place to present environmental advantages of cheap biomass. The application is low teck and usually saves consumers money. I visited a start up company in Goshen, IN that had a super efficient pellet stove. Ash volume was very low. They automated the ash, feeder, and bulk supply. They had equipment to service biomass heater much like fuel supply of heating oi. The stove had axillary options for hot water. Utilization and continued development of this type of device would be very positive to the environment. They had a presentation on how horrible grid power solutions were as a comparison. They had an EPA upon board of directors that tested emissions. The SMW pellet fuel was rated very low. Also, they could burn an array of paper, cardboard, switch grass fuel pellets. If environmentalist were truly concerned of GW they would be happy indeed of biofuel, biomass, and NG CHP point of use power generation. They would as well work to decrease grid power consumption. Roof top solar excelent as well as increasing biofuel.

      • By Dennis Villman on September 24, 2014 at 12:06 am

        So Forrest, what do you do in your spare time? I am on board with most of your essay (?), especially on the grid. We do need to move juice around at times to keep the lights on in areas that have suffered disasters, but for the most part the grid seems to be that root cause of most black/brown outs.

        Solar and wind are good, clean sources of peak load energy, especially in the Sun Belt summers, if produced on home/business rooftops, reducing demand from coal backups and reducing the load on the transmission grid.

        Carry on soldier.

        • By Blatherer on October 2, 2014 at 8:00 pm

          Fully disagree, Forrest! Your bio-burning stove might be the best solution in the outback. At more than 15 people per square kilometer Rome collapsed – due to deforestation. (Scheidel, W. 2007. Demography. In The Cambridge Economic History of the Greco-Roman World, ) We are packed too densely now for that solution. Germany is burning its forests down trying to attain a Green fantasy.

          At higher population densities the division of labor kicks in. I make electricity more efficiently than you, so you buy it from me. You fix jet engines better than I do, so I hire you to do that when I need it. That is, I assume you fix jet engines, because you want one in your basement.

          Learn some economics before railing against the system. You’ve got three big concepts to overcome. Besides division of labor, there’s economies of scale, and energy return on investment. Until you can overcome these you might as well wish the world was run on unicorn farts.

          • By Forrest on October 3, 2014 at 7:11 am

            Biomass a good contributor to space and water heating per low cost and excellent GW emission. I’m not one totally convinced of the need to greatly reduce GW emission, but nonetheless it’s there. For example the Bark Beetle is destroying Canadian woodland so quickly, that it is rated the biggest CO2 emitter. Rockies has similar pest problems. Switch Grass, also, a good pellet fuel and out produces woodland by a factor, tons/acre/year, growth. Municipal solid waste has great potential as the science per blending tires and coal within the mix. It appears the wood reacts to reduce harmful pollutants of these high energy components. So, the important thing here is space and water heating needs only low quality heat. Meaning it’s a task easily preformed either by waste heat as by product from other equipment or low tech combustion such as stoves. This is a good choice as natural gas and double the concern for electricity are high quality energy sources best utilized and conserved per more valuable uses. Electricity a good choice to power computers and high efficiency lights. Not a good choice to heat water or cook. It is a good choice for circulation pumps and temporary portable heat, but not for the high steady demand to space heat no matter the high efficiency of the final conversion. Natural gas is great for quick start up of power generation to support wind power, but probably a poor choice for base load. Nothing beats, nuclear, hydro, or clean coal for cheap base load power. Natural gas probably also best utilized per the demanding needs of transportation as compared to base load power.

            • By Forrest on October 3, 2014 at 7:46 am

              CHP concerns-
              Because heating water and air space need only low grade heat, the work best accomplished by biomass as per above or CHP. Note: utility power generation has little use for low grade heat and usually waste the resource. Base load combined cycle natural gas power generation does a better job utilizing waste heat, but even this process wastes much. Rough efficiencies of power generation: Steam turbine-33%, gas turbine-40%, and combined cycle 60%. The common Otto cycle stationary generator 28%, CHP 90%. So, the CHP equipment beats large utility power generators and do so at the highly efficient point of use power distribution and ultra low cost grid expense (non). The system can easily meet heat needs of household and act as back up power. Honda makes a unit, that is more popular in Japan and Europe. These units have some problems. They usually don’t completely replace furnace, but act to subsidize the heating bills. They produce way more heat as compared to electricity needs, and more valuable during winter heating season. However. depending on your particular heat needs, they can pay for themselves per sales of grid power. They are so efficient even high cost of propane not much of a factor. Per my manufacturing experience of estimating costs, I’m perplexed at the units high cost. These units utilize mature well known technology, they should be inexpensive. Water heater equipment could be set up per this technology. The units could replace the furnace. The ratio of heat vs power production may be out of balance per needs of most households, but experts predict the fuel cell CHP system about perfect. Costs are just getting competitive, yet fuel supply a huge obstacle. Hotels, industry, hospitals, and other large consumers of heat and power have experienced benefits of CHP micro-turbine systems such as Capstone. The heat generation part is just about free. Roberts guess post mentioned the mere suggestion of commercial consumers of power expected to install CHP system will be awarded by utility giving them ultra low rates to stop the practice. Utilities that desire to produce power hate point of use CHP systems and probably exerting maximum cronyism to politicians to deter the practice.

            • By Blatherer on October 3, 2014 at 11:23 am

              Can you quote a source for that 90% efficiency figure?
              I’m not saying that homes can’t use some forms of alternate energy for space heating, especially passive solar. I am saying that home use is only 1/3 of the total energy picture. The US gov’t estimates that at most 5% of total energy might be supplied by biomass. That’s for an industrialized country. Poor countries already exceed that, but due to a lack of anything else.
              I am not suggesting the conversion of high quality electricity to low quality space heating, at least not yet. If molten salt reactors can cut the cost of electricity in half, however, the simplicity and safety aspects become tempting.

            • By Forrest on October 3, 2014 at 2:16 pm

              I checked Wikipedia, that would be a good review. It’s proper name is micro CHP or micro combined heat and power.

              I just read of a company investing in pellet business. The owner thinks corn stover will become a source of material for pelletizing. They plan on supplying fuel for pellet stoves, animal feed, and feed stock for ethanol. The process increases density 4x and much easier to handle compared to bales of field stover. They can mix corn stover with distillery grain and distillery syrup (ethanol process) and produce a pellet that is a complete feed for cattle. The process is capable of displacing the ethanol corn use. The product is healthier for cattle as compared to plain corn. The corn plant is basically grass family which bovines eat. Cattle never were designed to eat corn and they become less healthier eating the stuff, but tastier. Grass fed beef is a consumers healthier option. Also, the distillery leftovers a big jump in protein and healthy supplements to the stover, again superior to just plain corn. The pellet fuel will be just corn stover, but it appears that the process improves density and the BTU is close to hardwood.

      • By Optimist on October 2, 2014 at 5:30 pm

        Fully agree, Forrest!

        Problem is, of course, that to the iMe generation, “low tech” just isn’t cool enough to pay attention to.

        And it doesn’t help that the DoE, like many farm state politicians and some posters on this blog, seems to be intoxicated by corn ethanol, and other phantom fuels (hydrogen…)

    • By Forrest on September 22, 2014 at 9:07 am

      I used another data set to convert BTU of coal consumed by state of Michigan for electrical power generation to Kwh of actual power generated. Then converted the Kwh back to Btu. It was comparable to above, between 8 to 16% of the original Btu of coal. We have thermal efficiencies ratings of power plants, but that is an optimum value and not per real world operation. They fire up old coal plants in heat of summer as the electrical demand can be at maximum. Also, they idle plants (low efficiency) per having stand by power. Wind power will make the power load vary as well. These old plants long ago paid for and hard to give up per need of back up. The efficient coal plants utilized per base load, but low efficient coal is utilized for task of temporary power per loss of wind power and A.C. needs of heat spell. It appears the biggest factor to increase grid efficiency, would be low cost NG turbine than can quickly come on line for power need. It’s efficiency vs speed of power up. Base load power may not be as valuable. Unreliable and uncontrollable power is definitely not at all valuable such as wind and solar. Point of use natural gas CHP appears to me to be incredibly valuable per the ability to immediately power up, heat hot water, low utility investment cost, and be scheduled per consumer need.

  2. By Tom G. on September 22, 2014 at 8:14 pm

    For me to understand what the graphic is trying to explain, all I have to do is just read the second sentence. “In 49 of 50 states, fossil fuels were the most consumed fuel.”. That’s it; I’m done.

  3. By DougT on September 25, 2014 at 10:18 am

    “Link to the original article” seems to reopen this page!

    • By Robert Rapier on September 25, 2014 at 12:18 pm

      It’s supposed to. It’s because websites sometimes grab my articles and strip out any indication of the author or where it came from. It’s just trying to preserve a link back to the source when it’s republished.

      • By Tom G. on September 25, 2014 at 1:24 pm

        And the process seems to work really well. When I did a Google search for the articles title, lots of websites had re-posted your article. Smart, very smart indeed, LOL.

  4. By Russ Finley on September 26, 2014 at 6:07 pm

    I found the following graphic interesting also. Energy from nuclear far outstrips hydro and look at how fast nuclear was able to ramp up!

    • By Optimist on October 2, 2014 at 5:31 pm

      Yes, let’s hope that never happens again.

      • By Blatherer on October 2, 2014 at 8:14 pm

        On the contrary, we need a bigger pulse. Go ask the French – “No coal, no oil, no choice.” T None of the options offered by the Green religion are viable. Coal is the real threat. Nuclear has already saved ~ 1.8 million lives.

        • By Optimist on October 2, 2014 at 8:19 pm

          France as a model of success? Seriously?

          Nuclear disasters are truly huge events. Human nature, being what it is, means that those disasters will continue. A lower incidence is hardly reassuring, or meaningful.

          • By Blatherer on October 3, 2014 at 11:00 am

            If you measure success by carbon dioxide emissions, yes. If you measure energy independence (though I honestly don’t know how one would do that), yes.
            If you think a lower rate of accidents is meaningless, you don’t know the basics of risk. Risk is probability of occurrence times severity (lives/money lost). Lower incidence directly reduces losses.
            Huge, yes. Huge times rare means not so huge. There are plenty of other things not as huge, but far more common that we should handle first. For instance 170,000 deaths per PWHr for coal, every year, versus 90 for nuclear – one incident per 40 + years. (World Health Org figures, wind is 150, solar rooftop is 440, biomass is 24,000)

            • By Forrest on October 4, 2014 at 8:06 am

              Nuclear is dangerous, so is the natural gas explosion. Nuclear has accomplished stellar safety record and we must put a high value on reality. What’s is so attractive and dangerous of nuclear- the ability of the power plant to sit quietly next to mass of consumers and generate gobs of power. The grid distribution at its most efficient. But, if anything goes wrong, again, next to a mass of consumers. The points of interest for me:

              1. Nuclear is stuck at present time in the low efficient steam turbine cycle. No cogeneration or CHP arrangement.
              2. If battery car becomes viable per battery technology improvements, look to solar and micro CHP to shadow the development. Meaning, going off grid would suddenly be cost effective and convenient.
              3. Recent report suggest biomass could supply 20% of international energy needs by 2030.
              4. Biodigester applications for methane gas, production of chemicals, drugs, food, and fuel, via the enzymes, mold, bacteria, and algae agents have just started to rattle the economic world and we appear to entering the biological revolution.
              5. Hydrogen economy is close enough for foresight.
              6. The technology of wind turbine and masts have improved dramatically. The prestressed concrete partitions masts will improve quality of wind and utilization per the high heights.
              7. Hydro energy could be doubled, despite Administration efforts to poo poo. Probably same with geo thermal.
              8. Coal damage greatly reduced per typical clean coal technology which experience a doubling of efficiency per cogen of power. Also, the process upon future may trigen per addition of fuel cell per the natural ability of hydrogen production.

              Just a thought, would it be smart development an industrial park for thermal efficiency? For example offering free power and steam to industries such as steel, aluminum, ethanol, etc. for achieving strong national market place competition. A nuclear reactor sits in the middle of 2,000 acre site and all consumers coordinate load per maximum efficicy.

          • By Russ Finley on October 4, 2014 at 1:29 am

            I really don’t expect to change your mind anymore than I would expect to change the mind of a Christian or Muslim that they have chosen the wrong religion. But you do offer the opportunity for me to inform other readers. Following are the responses I offered the last time you made that claim:



            • By Optimist on October 6, 2014 at 4:54 pm

              Oh, the poor all-knowing Russ has to deal with the ignoptimists! Life is tough, eh?

              Agreed: nuclear’s safety record is impressive, so far. Achieved at quite the cost, but impressive still.

              In spite of that, the problem is the catastrophic potential when failure do occur. Consider the dead zone created by Chernobyl.

              This is a rare event, but even rare events are troubling when they are this catastrophic. Just like there is no “fool-proof” design, there will be more Chernobyls. It is written in our DNA, for better or worse.

              As an interesting aside, far safer nuclear designs, such as pebble bed systems, seem to be gaining absolutely no ground. Governments are unwilling to invest in nuclear technology that has no weapons potential. Must be another flaw in our DNA…

            • By Russ Finley on October 7, 2014 at 9:40 pm

              I don’t understand what you mean by nuclear’s safety being achieved at a
              high cost. France has one of the lowest electric rates in Europe.
              Nuclear rates here in the states are quite competitive.

              You don’t
              know that there will be more Chernobyls. Chernobyl was a primitive
              Soviet reactor optimized for production of weapon grade material. It
              didn’t even have a containment dome. I’m not aware of any nuclear power plants
              today that do not have a containment dome. Even so, the resulting
              number of deaths was lower by an order of magnitude than the average
              annual death rate of airliner accidents, never mind cars.

              There is no dead zone
              around Chernobyl. That area has become the largest wildlife reserve in
              Europe. Poachers are a big problem.

              Designs don’t have to be
              fool proof. We accept the occasional catastrophic dam failure, airliner
              accidents, and 40,000 car fatalities a year.

              You have not been
              keeping up to date with nuclear power development. Pebble bed is just a concept. A recent conventional pressure design has been approved
              that has passive cooling and the ability to load follow.

              all over the planet are investing in nuclear energy power plants and it
              isn’t for weapons. You don’t need a nuclear power plant to make a
              nuclear bomb. How do you think we made the first ones? How do you think
              Israel made theirs? You have been thoroughly indoctrinated by the
              decades of false information, rarely failing to conflate nuclear energy
              with nuclear weapons …just as you have been taught to do.

            • By Forrest on October 8, 2014 at 7:47 am

              Nuclear appears to be the safest energy supply and requires least raw materials to construct. Coal’s has high health and environment damage. Logging is the most dangerous job vocation. Wind turbines the most damaging to bird population. Hydro appears safe in OECD countries, not so in earth quake regions. Generation 4 nuclear design very robust and should improve the safety rating. The most dangerous aspect of nuclear is the activist whom utilize deceptive ploys to damage the industry, making replacement cost expensive. We need to update the entire nuclear fleet to best in class. Also, very positive development to produce prodigious quantities of hydrogen as a by product. This would greatly improve fertilizer production per the elimination of CO2 within the process. Biofuels would get a bump up in GW rating. Fuel cell would get a bump per cheap energy source as well. Good things.

              Three nuclear accidents ’79 Three Mile no deaths, ’86 Chernobyl 31 deaths now increased to 56, and Fukushima 2011 1 death.

              Coal 749 fatalities TWy
              Hydro 10,288
              NG 196
              Nuclear 48

              Volcanoes ’80-2008 potentially the most dangerous
              869 fatalities/year
              140,717 affected/year
              $91 billion cost/year


              Energy Source Death Rate (deaths per TWh)

              Coal 161
              Coal – USA 15
              Oil 36
              Natural Gas 4
              Biofuel/Biomass 12
              Peat 12
              Solar (rooftop) 0.44
              Wind 0.15
              Hydro 0.10
              Hydro – world 1.4 (171,000 Banqiao dead)
              Nuclear 0.04

            • By Forrest on October 8, 2014 at 8:00 am

              The 10,288 fatalities TWy number is correct, but per non OECD countries. I think they produce less hydro power and had a horrendous 171k deaths per a single accident. It makes the death rate look horrible.

              Coal 749 fatalities TWy
              Hydro 10,288

      • By Russ Finley on October 4, 2014 at 1:24 am

        A pessimistic optimist …the irony ; ) It has to happen again. The National Renewable Energy Lab has made it clear that renewables can’t do it alone. No other low carbon energy source has proven to be able to scale so rapidly. Read: Nuclear Has Scaled Far More Rapidly Than Renewable

  5. By Michael Cain on September 27, 2014 at 10:42 pm

    “Consumed” can be a tricky concept. Utah, for example, burns large amounts of coal to produce electricity that is used in the West Coast states. On the near order of 80% of the output from the coal-fired 1.9GW Intermountain Power Plant in Utah goes by HVDC straight into Southern California. IIRC, Wyoming exports about two-thirds of the electricity that it generates.

Register or log in now to save your comments and get priority moderation!