Despite the explosive growth in solar production, solar power still comprises a tiny fraction of the energy consumption in the country. Oil, natural gas, and coal remain the biggest sources of energy. Though coal production is down to 1980s levels, “declaring the death of coal is premature,” noted an analyst.
Indeed, when you factor in all the sources of energy consumed in this country, captured solar power amounts to well less than 1 quadrillion Btu out of an annual total of 96.5 quadrillion.
The biggest sources are the old standbys. Oil still reigns supreme at 36 quadrillion Btu, natural gas at 26 quads, nuclear 8. Hydropower and biomass bring up the rear at 2.6 and 2.7 quads. Wind is just 1.5 quads. And coal — the great carbon-belching demon of the global energy mix — its contribution is 19 quads. That’s nearly 8 times all the nation’s wind and solar generation combined.
This is all important to keep in mind in light of pending efforts by the EPA to initiate draconian new regulations governing carbon dioxide emissions from coal-burning power plants. Coal is responsible for about 1.7 billion metric tons a year of carbon dioxide out of the 5.3 billion ton annual total.
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