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September 17, 2020

EIA survey of energy use by U.S. manufacturers shows increased use of natural gas, HGLs

U.S. manufacturing energy consumption by source
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Manufacturing Energy Consumption Survey (MECS)

Preliminary results from the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) 2018 Manufacturing Energy Consumption Survey (MECS) show that the consumption of energy by manufacturers in the United States has continued to increase since its 2010 low. Natural gas and hydrocarbon gas liquids (HGLs) led the increase, together accounting for more than half of the sector’s energy consumption in 2018. The U.S. manufacturing sector’s consumption of electricity has also increased slightly since 2010, but consumption of naphtha and fuel oils, coal, coke, and breeze has declined.

EIA’s MECS is the only source for estimates of energy-related characteristics, consumption, and expenditures for manufacturers across the United States. EIA conducts the MECS every four years; the previous MECS provided information on the manufacturing sector in 2014.

The 10th and most recent survey began in 2019 and provides data for calendar year 2018. The first table of preliminary 2018 MECS estimates, released last week, provides totals of manufacturing sector energy consumption by fuel. Consumption is counted on its first use to avoid double-counting when energy is consumed to produce other forms of energy, such as when coal is consumed to produce coal coke or when natural gas is consumed in a cogeneration process that generates heat and electricity.

U.S. manufacturing energy consumption
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Manufacturing Energy Consumption Survey (MECS)

Sales by U.S. manufacturers to consumers, final users, and other industries (measured in dollars as manufacturing gross output) increased by 4% between 2014 and 2018, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. During the same period, consumption of energy by U.S. manufacturers increased even more, by 6%, resulting in an increase in the sector's energy intensity. The 2018 survey showed the first increase in manufacturing energy intensity in the United States since 2002.

U.S. manufacturing sector output, energy consumption, and energy intensity
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Manufacturing Energy Consumption Survey (MECS)

EIA will start releasing additional 2018 MECS data in early 2021:

  • February: Consumption tables
  • April: Fuel-switching and economic tables
  • June: Count and price tables

MECS is part of EIA’s suite of energy consumptions surveys, which also includes the Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey and Residential Energy Consumption Survey.

Principal contributor: Chrishelle Lawrence