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Today in Energy

June 4, 2013

Bulk chemicals industry uses 5% of U.S. energy

graph of end-use energy consumption, as explained in the article text.
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration's Manufacturing Energy Consumption Survey, Annual Energy Review, and U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis.

The industrial sector is responsible for nearly a third of total energy use in the United States, consuming an estimated 31 quadrillion Btu in 2012. Much of this consumption is in energy-intensive manufacturing, including the manufacture of bulk chemicals, which require a lot of energy to produce high volumes of basic chemicals, plastics, and agricultural chemicals (fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides). In 2010, bulk chemicals accounted for about 5% of the nation's energy use and were estimated by the Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis to provide the nation's economy with 1.4% of the nation's gross domestic product (GDP).

Because of ripple effects and interconnectivity with the economy, changes in this industry are not necessarily reflected in these data. Over the long term, EIA projections show a declining contribution from the bulk chemicals industry to the economy and energy consumption, but projected energy use in the bulk chemicals sector accelerates through the middle of the next decade before dropping below the growth rate of the overall economy (see charts below).

graphs of energy and economic projection, as explained in the article text.
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The most recent EIA manufacturing sector survey data are available in the Manufacturing Energy Consumption Survey (MECS2010). For more discussion of the industrial sector and individual industries, see EIA's Industry Analysis Briefs and the Annual Energy Outlook 2013 (AEO2013).