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US wastes enough energy to power UK for 7 years, report finds

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Travis Morisse/The Hutchinson News/AP/File

(Read caption) Two transmission lines cross properties in Edwards County near Offerle, Kan.

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Each year the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory releases an analysis of the energy input and energy use of the US economy to determine the energy efficiency.

It might be somewhat surprising to know that in 2012 the US wasted 61% of all energy input into its economy, making it just 39% energy efficient.

Of the 95.1 quadrillion British Thermal Units (BTUs) of raw energy that entered the US economy, only 37.0 quadrillion BTUs were actually used, with the other 58.1 quadrillion BTUs being wasted. (Related article: US Energy Boom to Create 500,000 Additional Jobs by 2020)


In 1970, the US economy actually managed to use more energy than it wasted, using 31.1 quadrillion BTUs and only wasting 30.6 quadrillion BTUs, achieving an energy efficiency of higher than 50%. Since then the overall energy efficiency of the economy has steadily fallen as the use of electricity generation and transport has increased. 

Power plants and internal combustion engines are notoriously inefficient, and as there use has increased, so the efficiency of the economy has fallen.


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