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article imageFossil fuel consumption by electric power sector see big drop

By Karen Graham     May 30, 2018 in Business
Washington - Fossil fuel consumption in the electric power sector fell to 22.5 quadrillion British thermal units (quads) in 2017, the lowest level since 1994, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).
“The declining trend in fossil fuel consumption by the power sector has been driven by a decrease in the use of coal and petroleum, with a slightly offsetting increase in the use of natural gas,” the EIA said.
This means it is entirely possible that by the end of 2018, natural gas will have surpassed fossil fuels, becoming the most prevalent technology for generating electricity in the United States.
In 2017, the use of petroleum in the electric power sector was the lowest on record, based on data since 1949, while coal consumption decreased to its lowest level since 1982. Interestingly, in energy-equivalent terms, more coal was consumed than natural gas in 2017, however, as far as electrical generation, gas-fired plants produced more electricity than coal-fired plants.
This seemingly lopsided bit of data shows that natural gas-fired power plants are far more efficient than coal-fired plants. This is because new combined gas-fired plants use combined-cycle generators, which are more efficient because the waste heat from the gas turbine is routed to a nearby steam turbine that generates additional power, according to the EIA.
Changes in energy consumption and efficiency have also impacted carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the electric power sector, which in 2017 were the lowest since 1987. But because coal combustion is much more carbon intensive than natural gas combustion, CO2 emissions from coal were more than double those from natural gas in 2017, even though natural gas provided more electricity generation.
More about eia, electric power sector, Natural gas, Fossil fuels, coal consumption