Cost declines and policy initiatives drive consumption of coal down.
Wind power gained the most ground in the U.S. energy mix last year, according to the annual U.S. energy charts recently released by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
New wind farms using bigger, more efficient turbines helped drive production from 1.17 quadrillion BTU (quads) in 2011 to 1.36 quads in 2012. The development is due in part to government incentives for investment in renewables, according to A.J. Simon, an energy systems analyst at the laboratory.
Solar power produced roughly 0.235 quads in 2012, a jump from 0.158 quads in 2011, according to the report, which attributed this to marked declines in the prices of PV panels.
Use of both coal and oil dropped in 2012, but natural gas use increased from 24.9 quads in 2011 to 26 quads in 2012.
Consumers used about 95.1 quads in 2012, 2.2 quads less than in 2011, with the biggest share used for electricity generation. Energy use increased slightly in the industrial sector but declined in commercial, residential, and transportation.