© PhotoDisc/C. Lee/PhotoLink
About one-third of the energy used in the United States in 2015 went to industry. That’s understandable in view of the wide range of activity in this economic sector. Every product on which we rely—from gasoline and automobiles to food, buildings, machinery, and appliances—takes energy to produce. The use of energy in industry affects every single citizen directly through the cost of goods and services, the quality of manufactured products, the strength of the economy, and the availability of jobs.
The use of energy in industry affects every single citizen directly through the cost of goods and services, the quality of manufactured products, the strength of the economy, and the availability of jobs.
The industrial sector uses energy in many ways. One major application involves raising the temperature of components in the manufacturing process, which is called process heating. Refining crude oil, where heat is used to separate various distillates, is an example of this. Another common use of energy in industry is to heat a boiler that generates steam or hot water.
A few industries use a very large share of energy in the industrial sector. Petroleum refining is the principal consumer, with the chemical industry a close second. Those users, plus the paper and metal industries, account for 78% of total industrial energy use.
Industry and manufacturing rely heavily on natural gas (30% of all energy consumed by the industrial sector in 2015), petroleum and other liquids (26%), and electricity (10%), with coal, renewables, and biofuels making up the rest.
Industrial energy needs are projected to grow by 31% during the next 25 years, when they will account for about 38% of total U.S. consumption. Part of this increase may occur because some manufacturing activities formerly located overseas are returning to the United States, in response to a recent trend toward lower natural gas prices prompted by increases in domestic production.
- Real Prospects for Energy Efficiency in the United States (2010)
- Overview and Summary of America’s Energy Future: Technology and Transformation (2010)
- Making Value for America: Embracing the Future of Manufacturing, Technology, and Work: Summary (2015)
- Effect of U.S. Tax Policy on Greenhouse Gas Emissions (2013)
- Effects of Diluted Bitumen on Crude Oil Transmission Pipelines: TRB Special Report 311 (2013)