Energy stats to remember

By Editors of POWERGRID Int'l / Electric Light and Power
Every now and then I like to be able to raise eyebrows with an impressive, unexpected or otherwise ... well, eyebrow-raising fact about energy. The people over at OPower shared a list they compiled with me, and I wanted to pass them on to you. Maybe you'll find one or two of them worth passing on.

The increase in power generation capacity from natural gas-fired power plants in the U.S. between 2000 and 2012: More than 96 percent.

As previously predicted on this blog, the dash for gas is a trend many energy analyists expect to see continue into 2013 and beyond.

In April 2012, for the first time ever in the U.S., the amount of power generated from natural gas was equal to that generated from coal. Because of low prices and other factors, natural gas is on the rise and coal is on the decline. Even given all of that, this is a statistic I wouldn't have easily guessed.

The annual cost of charging an iPhone 5: $0.41

I'm kind of surprised that Apple doesn't talk about this. I would. Then again, when it comes to getting people to want to buy their stuff, Apple has never had a problem with that at all. But still, that's pretty impressive. You can't buy much for four dimes and a penny, so to find out that gives your iPhone a year's worth of juice for that amount is surprising.

The year that the United States will become the world's largest producer of oil: 2017

"Drill here, drill now" say the bumper stickers. Well, we actually do quite a bit of drilling here and now. So much so, in fact, that the U.S. is giving Saudi Arabia a run for its money. And America beating the Saudis at drilling oil is a bit like beating Canada at hockey. It's kind of their thing.

The consequences of this trend are obvious. The U.S. gets to brag that it is less reliant on foreign oil than ever before. This has been a goal of every president since Richard Nixon, and one it felt like we'd never make any real progress on. But we have managed already to become a net exporter of petroleum, and we did it with expanded drilling, new technology and energy efficiency .

2012's rank in the list of the warmest years ever recorded in the continental United States: No. 1

I am writing this blog from Tulsa, Oklahoma. And nobody knows this fact better than we Oklahomans. Except perhaps Texans. During the summer we were trapped in a cruel heat bubble, and we had a winter that wasn't a winter.

Me personally, I'd rather be hot than cold, and part of me enjoyed a winter that was more cool than cold, but it is creepy to see weather act this way. Especially when storm season rolls around. Watching the damaging hurricanes and hybrid "Frankenstorms " of the past year have made more people than yours truly wonder whether "once in a lifetime" weather is the new normal.

The average miles per gallon of new cars sold in the first half of 2012 in the U.S.: 23.8 MPG

Consumers rank fuel economy as the first question they ask a car salesman about, and no wonder with fuel prices being what they are. But high gas prices and consumer demand is only one factor. Government action is another. Congress passed new CAFE standards in 2007. The measures of this law are now taking effect and the average fuel economy of a car is expected to rise to 35.5 MPG by 2016.

The proportion of U.S. households that have a smart meter installed: 1 in 3

The number of smart meters deployed in the U.S. has increased fivefold in just five years. Utilities love them because they provide the two-way communication that helps them in so many different ways, and some consumers like them too because they can make billing easier and make sure they don't pay too much for the electricity they use.

By mid-decade, it's predicted that half of U.S. households will have a smart meter installed. Economists foresee that the world smart meter market could grow to $34 billion in spending from 2012 to 2020.

The number of new nuclear reactors in the U.S. that were granted licenses in 2012: 2

These were, of course, the first new licenses granted to any nuclear reactor in the U.S. since 1978. For fans of nuclear energy, this is an exciting number. Perhaps even more exciting than that is the number of new nuclear reactors currently under consideration by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission: 16 other plants across the country have applications with the NRC to build 25 new reactors.

The number of nuclear reactors that Japan has announced it will close by 2040: 50

Likewise, if you're not a fan of nuclear energy, here's a statistic that should be important to you. Japan is, by and large, getting out of the nuclear power industry when it used to be at the forefront of the science of nuclear energy. A surprising development that few would have predicted a few years back, when many were talking about a worldwide nuclear renaissance. If there is a nuclear renaissance, it doesn't look like it will be happening in Japan. It's not looking too good in Germany, Switzerland or France, either.

The percentage of energy that is wasted in the U.S. every year: 56.2 percent

That's right, the U.S. wastes more energy than it uses. Despite recent advances in the world of energy efficiency, we are still a deeply inefficient country when it comes to what we do with our energy once it's generated. Of the 97.3 quadrillion British Thermal Units of raw energy that the U.S. generates, only 41.7 were used constructively. Most of this wastage has to do with how we generate energy in the first place. Most power plants are inherently inefficient. As is our transportation sector, even though it is becoming more efficient.

Thanks again to OPower for helping gather these facts.


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