Energy Use Per Capita Has Decreased, with Transportation Replacing Power as the Leading Producer of Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Individual Americans use less energy than they did in 1980, from 344 million BTUs per capita to 301 million in 2017 (Fig. 125). However, the nation overall consumed 97.9 quadrillion BTUs in 2017, which is 25% more energy than it used in 1980.
Most of our power portfolio (78 quadrillion BTUs, or 79.9%) comes from fossil fuels (Figs. 123, 124), the primary driver of US emissions. Among fossil fuels, coal consumption dropped 39% from its 2005 peak. Natural gas grew over the same period by 24%, rising to more than double coal's consumption at 28.0 quadrillion BTUs. Petroleum consumption fell post-recession, but has since continued its increase to 36.3 quadrillion BTUs.
In 2017, Americans emitted 5.3 billion metric tons of CO2, the equivalent of 1.1 billion passenger cars a year, a 14.0% drop from its 2007 peak. Transportation produced 5.5 metric tons of CO2 emissions per person and electric power added 5.3 metric tons of CO2 per person.