Manufacturing sector sees energy use drop

High wires, Electricity pylons at sunsetThe total amount of energy consumed by U.S. manufacturers declined 17% from 2002 to 2010, with consumption of every type of fuel dropping, according to a report released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration in March. During the same time period, manufacturing gross output decreased by 3%, indicating a “significant decline in the amount of energy used,” the report says.

The drop in energy use by manufacturers reflects “both improvements in energy efficiency and changes in the manufacturing output mix,” according to the Energy Information Administration, which is a statistical and analytical agency within the U.S. Department of Energy. The manufacturing sector accounted for more than 11% of U.S. gross domestic product in 2010.

The Energy Information Administration considered two forms of energy consumed by manufacturing: Fuel (energy used for heat and power) and feedstock (energy used for raw material input or other purposes).

“U.S. manufacturing used over 14 quadrillion Btu of energy as a fuel in 2010, a decrease of 13% from 2002,” according to the 2012 Manufacturing Energy Consumption Survey. “Fuel consumption in the five most energy-intensive subsectors accounted for 81% of fuel use in manufacturing. Two energy-intensive subsectors (petroleum/coal products and food) showed 3.5% increases in their fuel consumption from 2002 to 2010.”

Feedstock energy use in U.S. manufacturing accounts for more than 6% of all energy consumed in the country.

“Although nearly all manufacturers use energy as a fuel, 99% of feedstock energy use occurs in only three manufacturing subsectors: primary metals, chemicals and petroleum/coal products,” the report says.