The recent run-up in oil prices has many Americans worrying about the cost of everything from gas to food, and with good reason. Of all the energy sources we use, petroleum is the most popular.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, petroleum accounted for a little more than one-third of the energy Americans consumed in 2009, the most recent full-year data available. (Partial data for 2010 data is available here.)
Natural gas accounts for about one-fourth our energy consumption, and coal is responsible for around one-fifth.
We’re heard a lot of talk in recent years about renewable energy such as solar, wind and hydropower. As of 2009, the Energy Information Administration said that made up just a small chunk – 8 percent - of our overall energy consumption. But that it is expected to grow to 17 percent by 2035.
Why not more? The EIA notes that renewable energy plants are generally more expensive to build and operate, although that is changing with certain renewables such as wind. It also notes that renewable plants are often build in remote areas, which makes it difficult to transport the energy to metro areas. Tax credits and other government programs are expected to help spur more renewable energy plant production.