What a difference two decades make

Date posted: December 25, 2013

Time changes things and often fools us. Things don’t often change in the way we might imagine. Can we see this in our energy use and production? N.C. State University economist Mike Walden responds.

“We can. … And again, I think, it’s an illustration that it’s sometimes dangerous to assume the past will continue into the future. But specifically if we look at energy use (and) energy production in the United States and how much change over the last 20 years — big, big changes. For example, 20 years ago, the biggest use for energy for a household was home heating. It consumed over 50 percent of what we spent on energy. Now, it is still the top use, but it’s today just over 40 percent.

“The difference is in energy use for electronics — that’s up from 25 percent of total use, up to 34 percent total use. Another fact: The U.S. ranking among countries in the world in energy use per capita has actually fallen over the last 20 years. On the production side, the U.S. has moved up the ladder to be now the top producer of natural gas in the world, and next year many predict we’re actually going to reclaim the top position in oil production.

“And one last fact: Who would’ve thought 20 years ago that energy from wind power in the U.S. would’ve risen over 20 years by 4,000 percent?”

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