Americans are using less energy overall and making more use of renewable energy resources. According to the most recent energy flow charts released by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the United States used significantly less coal and petroleum in 2009 than in 2008, and significantly more wind power. There also was a decline in natural gas use and increases in solar, hydro and geothermal power. A.J. Simon, an LLNL energy systems analyst, says as a result, people and businesses are using less energy in general.
According to Simon the increase in renewables is a really good story, especially in the wind arena. It's a result of very good incentives and technological advancements. In 2009, the technology got better and the incentives remained relatively stable. The investments put in place for wind in previous years came online in 2009. Even better, there are more projects in the pipeline for 2010 and beyond.
Simon expects that when carbon emissions data is released later this year, they will tell a similar story. The reduction in the use of natural gas, coal and petroleum is commensurate with a reduction in carbon emissions. Simply said, people are doing less stuff; therefore, they're burning less fuel.