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Don’t Be Fooled; Natural Gas Is the Future Thanks to Fracking

cost of renewables - Tom ShepstoneTom Shepstone
Natural Gas NOW


Fracking has made natural gas the king of fuels and poised the US for energy dominance in a world of foolish pursuits and windmill tilting it cannot afford.

Yet another Today In Energy post from the Energy Information Administration demonstrates the power of fracking and the rise of natural gas as the future of energy for our nation and the world. The US is, as the Trump administration has suggested, poised not only for energy independence but also energy dominance. Germany and much of Europe are flailing about subsidizing wind and other energy sources, distorting markets to the point of nonperformance while exploding electric rates. Meanwhile, here in the US, fracking has delivered ever cheaper energy in the form of oil and gas, which continue to be completely dominate here.


Here is the EIA’s latest (emphasis added):

Fossil fuels have provided more than 80% of total U.S. energy consumption for more than 100 years. Since 1928, when consumption of natural gas surpassed that of biomass, the three fossil fuels—petroleum, natural gas, and coal—have been the most consumed fuels in the United States. In 2016, fossil fuels accounted for 81% of total U.S. energy consumption, the lowest fossil fuel share in the past century.

In 2016, the renewable share of energy consumption in the United States was 10.5%. This was the largest renewable share since the 1930s, when overall energy consumption was lower and the amount of biomass consumption (mainly wood) was relatively high. The greatest growth in renewables over the past decade has been in solar and wind electricity generation. Liquid biofuel consumption—more than half of which is ethanol blended into motor gasoline—has also increased in recent years, contributing to the growing renewable share of total energy consumption.

In addition to the increasing share of renewables, the decline in the fossil fuel share of consumption is attributable mainly to declines in coal consumption. U.S. coal consumption fell nearly 9% in 2016, following a 14% drop in 2015. Overall, U.S. coal consumption has declined almost 38% since 2005. In each of the past 20 years, the power sector has accounted for more than 90% of total U.S. coal consumption.

Petroleum, which encompasses nearly all transportation fuels and several petroleum-based fuels used in homes, businesses, and industries, continues to be the largest source of energy consumption in the United States. Petroleum consumption has increased in each of the past four years.

Consumption of natural gas has risen in 9 of the past 10 years. As recently as 2006, the United States consumed more coal than natural gas (in energy-equivalent terms), but as natural gas consumption has increased—particularly in the electric power sector—natural gas use in 2016 was about twice that of coal.

Their graph tells it all:


Take note, too, of how renewables have reached the 10% level. It has been due primarily to heavily subsidized ethanol, which is a political boondoggle most of the country would happily end, plus hydroelectric power completely unlikely to expand. Other renewables (e.g., solar and wind) account for only roughly 3% of energy used in the US. Natural gas has more than doubled in recent years and now represents roughly 38% of US energy consumption. Fracking has changed everything for the better, made natural gas king and offers the realistic hope the US will soon be the dominant energy producer for the world.

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4 thoughts on “Don’t Be Fooled; Natural Gas Is the Future Thanks to Fracking

  1. Well I have seen that chart before and it is interesting isn’t it? Where you see a boondoggle with renewables I don’t, but clearly oil and natural gas are not fuels of the past. That we both see.

    Happy holy the nuns are now building chapels in the path of pipelines Tuesday Batman! This is an interesting addition to the list of things built or placed or planted in the path of a pipeline in recent years.


  2. The best way forward is natural gas, nuclear, and to a far lesser extent unsubsidized renewables where appropriate. Oil use is going to very slowly taper off in transportation but will need to be replaced by dramatically increased and dependable electricity generation.

    100% renewables is an elitist fantasy.

  3. I have a different view.

    I think I’ve noticed that petroleum geologists, as a group, are less enthusiastic about soft/tight rock-petroleum formations. Some geologists are noticing production cost and what the future holds. Where do we go after the shale-type formations (oil source rock) give up their dispersed, diffusely-held petroleum?

    As foreign oil producers diversify their economies and adjust oil-dependent national budgets, will our relatively high-cost domestic petroleum industry be competitive? Is unconventional petroleum production even competitive today? Are investors a little exuberant, as they anticipate a long overdue market turn-around?

    I gulp oil like everybody else, but I wonder if U.S. “energy dominance” is a pipe dream puffed up by non-petroleum folks hawking real estate “location, location” that is really quite limited.

    Maybe alternatives to burning petroleum are not as risky as we sometimes think.

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