US Gas Consumption Trends


By Paul Homewood

The US EIA have just published a report, which shows how natural gas consumption has been steadily rising in the US since 2013:

No surprise there, as gas has steadily been replacing coal in the electricity mix.

But I would draw your attention to the seasonal peaks and troughs. As with the UK, gas consumption rises sharply in winter, typically about 60% above summer levels.

This is a reminder of how difficult it will be to replace gas and coal with renewables, which cannot be simply be turned up and down as required.

5 17 votes
Article Rating
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
March 17, 2023 2:14 am

Natural gas price last 4 years, projected to 2024:


Consumption rose despite peak price nearly tripling, and EIA reports the good news that next year it will only cost double the 2019 price

Government price fixing and supply management certainly has “Beat Big Oil”

Ron Long
March 17, 2023 2:29 am

Ouch! Paul Homewood presents a Reality Check for those with minimal intelligence over on the CAGW Loonie Left side. Very hard to imagine how that consumption/utilization is supposed to be just turned off some day.

Peta of Newark
March 17, 2023 3:04 am

Another ‘Measure of Madness’ = burning natural gas (NG) in a power station.

I’m entirely with the ‘offbeat Texan guy’ (what’s his name: BK Tinlicker or something) who gambled on the use of NG as a transport fuel

Holy Cow, you’d get all the benefits of low CO2 output and low particulates and low (whatever trumped up pollution scare you want) from using NG in cars and trucks.

And if anyone imagines Hydrogen can be got to work, using NG would be ‘a piece of piss’
i.e. No exotic materials, new cars or anything except a replacement fuel tank and some minor tweaks to existing vehicles/engines

Continue using coal in stationary energy/power sources and if you really do want to come over ‘all headless chicken’ – use Carbon Capture but do it sensibly, profitably and in ways that would genuinely help The Climate

viz. Gassify the coal to make (what used to be called Town Gas) with coke as the by product.

Use the Town Gas to make electikery and use the coke to repair soil erosion – coke is Biochar basically. Or put it back into the mine you got the coal out of.

Or better better better, sell it to the Chinese to make steel with, seeing as they’re the only people left doing so in this world. They’re buying coal anyway.
And then by doing that, you might be able to exert some modicum of Quality Control over the Brittle, InstaRust and NoCanWeld Junk they presently pass off as ‘steel’

win win win for everybody but mostly for the Life On Earth that exists and lives inside The Greenhouse and are presently undergoing the real Mass Extinction so many are talking about.
That is: The soil bacteria

When they go – we go.
They were here first and will be here last.

Dennis Gerald Sandberg
Reply to  Peta of Newark
March 17, 2023 9:24 am

Agree with everything you said. But the argument is ICE’s lose too much energy to waste heat, conversion efficiency 20%; whereas BEV’s burning natural gas in CCGT’s at 66% conversion efficiency (less a little reactive/resistivity loses) to charge their batteries are three (3) more efficient.

My answer to that has been, yes, but ICE’s burning NG avoids the $trillions for new generation. We’re not running out of natural gas we’re running out of money.
I worked up a spreadsheet comparing costs for direct combustion NG in ICE vs BEV’s vs diesel vs gasoline. At current NG prices at <$3.00 MCF, we should have massively converted to NG vehicles the same day the Marcellus natural gas formation proved its worth. Opportunity lost, BEV’s have the momentum and political constituency (unfortunately).

Coal gasification plants are more expensive to build than CCGT plants, way more, too much more IMHO. I worked for the lignite to pipeline quality natural gas plant (Great Plains Gasification, now Dakota Gas) for a few years in several capacities and I’m fully aware of all the issues.

Reply to  Dennis Gerald Sandberg
March 17, 2023 9:44 am

ICE engines have been exceeding 20% for decades.
As for BEVs you have to include all of the losses transmitting the electricity from the plant to BEV, then into and out of the battery.

Add everything up, and it’s pretty close to a wash, with the ICE having a small edge most of the time.

As to converting cars to burning NG, you are neglecting the huge cost of replacing the existing gas/diesel infrastructure with a NG infrastructure.
You are also ignoring the cost of replacing cars and trucks with ones built to use NG. Finally you are neglecting the loss of range involved with switching to NG.

Last edited 14 days ago by MarkW
Reply to  MarkW
March 20, 2023 7:06 am

Yep to most of what you said. Years ago, over 25, I looked into converting a small 4 cylinder 2 liter car to natural gas. I think the total cost would have been about $2500 to $3000. That would have included the low flow pump to fill the tank. It would have refilled at my house at a convent location just beside the gas and electric meters. The car on gasoline had a range around 250 miles and would go about 150 on natural gas but it still would also run on gasoline so the range would actually increase for the first leg of any trip because BOTH tanks would be full.

I didn’t do the conversion, I didn’t think is was worth the trouble. In hind sight I probably should have. I would have been just as crooked as EV owners, filling the tank without paying my fare share of road taxes and I understand natural gas in an ICE can extend the miles on the engine by double.

SO, if you have your own home and space on your driveway adjacent to your gas and electric meters, which most modern houses do, conversion to natural gas is still a good option and probably way better than most EV options. If the feds had decided to spend BILLIONS on natural gas fueling stations as Brandon is doing for EV charging stations, natural gas vehicle sales would have exploded so much that there would already be some sort of road mileage tax for vehicles that don’t pay at the pump.

Research on current pricing shows the cost is WAY higher now then it was 20+ years ago, so the government must have gotten involved. The car I was going to modify had an engine made in Brazil and the conversion kit was from Brazil.

Finally, as an employee of a local government I drove a PU truck that was dual fuel. It had a large NG tank in the bed and when I used NG only, I would get about 2 1/2 days travel. I took, even at a high pressure filling station, 10 minutes to refuel for about 1/2 the range. This was about 20 years ago. The city only had 2 filling locations. Neither was convenient to where I needed to drive so wasted fuel to travel to them. Eventually I just used gasoline almost exclusively. I would fill up with NG when I was close. I figured someone would badger me about not using NG, but that never happened in the year I drove the vehicle.

March 17, 2023 3:18 am

“This is a reminder of how difficult it will be to replace gas and coal with renewables”

As is this. At least one outfit is being honest about heat pumps, yet remains disingenuous on Hydrogen…

“Heat pumps won’t work in old homes, warns Bosch
Much of Britain’s Victorian housing stock is unsuitable for installing them, says Bosch

“We think that in the UK, with the fleet of Victorian houses or period houses and so on, hydrogen, or in the interim hydrogen-ready boilers, are the solution.”

An unexpected end to coal?

“Companies running the UK’s three remaining coal-fired power stations have told Sky News that they will not be able to commit to new emergency power contracts next winter, despite a government request to do so.”

What a mess.

We’re going to need gas more than ever.

Tom Johnson
Reply to  strativarius
March 17, 2023 5:38 am

The Telegraph article gets it ‘sorta’ right on heat pumps but is not nearly pessimistic enough on hydrogen. It was also quite disingenuous of them to quote the absolute minimum cost of a heat pump and compare it with high end costs of competing technology.

They get hydrogen totally wrong. On one hand, hydrogen is an existing technology. You simply electrolyze water and burn the hydrogen to produce energy. I did that in my basement in an empty apple juice jug more than 60 years ago. There are myriads of reasons why that’s not done already. The biggest hurdle is that it takes far-far more energy to make it and get it to the user then is produced from burning it. When we’re already running out of electricity when we need it most, where will the electricity come from to make the hydrogen? We already can’t even make enough windmills and solar panels to keep up with expected growth of energy usage, much less add in all the transportation requirements.

The second is the process of delivering hydrogen. It’s not quite that simple, to “replace the gas lines with plastic”. There are a whole lot of gas lines that can’t be even reached, much less replaced. The tiny hydrogen molecules also escape quite easily from things that now hold back the much bigger NG molecules. Even at 10,000 psi, hydrogen takes 7 times volume as the volume of gasoline or diesel fuel containing the same energy. So, where do you put all the large tanks of hydrogen, which must be cylindrical with round ends? On the roof of your Prius? The Big Bang theory might need to be modified when these start getting into collisions.

Last edited 14 days ago by Tom Johnson
Reply to  Tom Johnson
March 17, 2023 6:19 am

Why your post, and your reasoning fail to get 1,000 likes is a mystery. Maybe it only goes to show how many spokespersons for “science” never even took high school chemistry — let along physics or geology, or some other hard science that offers perspective.

I did that exact same hydrogen experiment in the basement with an apple juice jug, with my toy store chemistry set was I was a little kid. Every so often my Mom would call downstairs when she heard a POP when my buddy and I touched a match to the jug. But we never did any serious damage. Mom didn’t want us to grow up to be shrinking violets, and she figured we were smart enough not to burn down the house.

Your second paragraph about the energy balance of electrolyzing water will fall on deaf ears. Do you think Ocasio or Ed Markey care about that stuff? Never mind that what you say is true, and easy to prove.

Your last paragraph with descriptions of hydrogen molecules, PSI requirements and such, require basic math that is no more popular than chemistry. Fat chance it will ever convince anyone working themselves into a sanctimonious froth over CAGW.

But please keep trying!

Joe Crawford
Reply to  tom_gelsthorpe
March 17, 2023 8:50 am

…she figured we were smart enough not to burn down the house.”

Mom told me that she and Dad always considered themselves lucky I hadn’t burned the house down or blown it up when I was a kid. In fact the only damage I did was to singe both hands trying to make a rocket engine that ran on alcohol. Which, of course, required a 5-mile trip to the doctor’s office and several days of eating with a spoon, one I could hold with the bandages.

Reply to  Tom Johnson
March 17, 2023 8:26 am

All that extra volume also means that you have to move much more hydrogen through the lines in order to get the same amount energy to the customer.
That means that not only do pipelines have to be replaced, they have to be replaced with pipes that are both larger and have to be built to handle higher pressures.
As to the tanks, at those kinds of pressure, they can’t be cylindrical, they will have to be round.

Last edited 14 days ago by MarkW
Lee Riffee
Reply to  strativarius
March 17, 2023 7:54 am

Actually, heat pumps don’t work anywhere where temps drop below around 40F for long periods of time. What happens then is that the system switches over to its backup source, which if not gas or oil, is electric resistance heating. The same thing that you see in a space heater…but on a much larger, and much more expensive, scale.
Heat pumps are OK in places that pretty much never have freezing temps. Think far southern US, maybe the southern most tip of England?

What good is something when, half the time, it cannot do its job and has to be supplemented by something else? That would be like (in baseball) having a starting pitcher who can never pitch more than 2 or 3 innings….what would happen is that the coach would put that guy in the bull pen and use him as a relief pitcher. Not a starter.

Gas (for heat and for power generation) should be the starting pitcher that can easily pitch the whole game. Starting with heat pumps (for homes, buildings) and solar/wind for power generation is like putting a relief pitcher in to start, knowing full well he will not be able to last more than a few innings and will need to be replaced (mid game, if not sooner) by someone who can pitch the whole game.

Joe Crawford
Reply to  Lee Riffee
March 17, 2023 8:55 am

Our heat pump works fine here in West Virginia… along with about 6 chords of fire wood for the wood stove :<)

Last edited 14 days ago by Joe Crawford
Reply to  Lee Riffee
March 17, 2023 3:23 pm

My non-political reading on heat pumps is that modern ones are effective down to 25̊ F, without ever mentioning electrical heating coils. My limited experience, not with any latest model, is that at 50̊̊ F they heat the house very slowly, The air coming out of the registers is just barely above room temperature, quite unlike the gas furnaces I’m used to.

Joe Crawford
Reply to  AndyHce
March 19, 2023 8:53 am

“…modern ones are effective down to 25̊ F,…”

When I designed the system for our new cabin you are right in that they can be effective down below freezing. However, I couldn’t fine any air-source heat pump that was more efficient than straight electric heat below around 40ºF. But, it all depends on the frost point of the outside air.

In order to extract heat from the outside air the unit has to reduce the temperature of the condenser unit several degrees below the surrounding air. When this temperature drops below the frost point the condenser starts icing up and the unit will periodically enter a defrost cycle where it must pump heat out of the house (i.e., switch to AC mode) to clear that ice. Once clear it goes back into heating mode and slowly ices up the outdoor condenser again.

From an efficiency standpoint as the outdoor air temperature starts dropping much below around 40ºF most air-sourced heat pumps use more electricity to pump heat into the house (plus defrost the outdoor condenser) than can be generated by straight electric heat.

David Dibbell
March 17, 2023 3:23 am

“This is a reminder of how difficult it will be to replace gas and coal with renewables, which cannot be simply be turned up and down as required.”

It is not just “difficult.” It won’t work at all in any practical sense, and it is insane to try.

Last edited 14 days ago by David Dibbell
Reply to  David Dibbell
March 17, 2023 5:52 pm

I wonder what percentage of that heat coming out of the registers, is coming from the fan that’s moving the air around?

March 17, 2023 6:03 am

“Difficult?” The “transition” to renewables is INTENDED to be difficult — if not impossible. The CAGW moral panic is NOT about “science.” It’s NOT about trying to find a safer way of doing things. It’s a fanatical religious movement determined to PUNISH Western Civilization for the sin of prosperity. The sinners must do penance. The sinners must be MADE TO SUFFER until they give up their wicked ways!

The self-appointed Climatista priesthood of former Veep Gore, Rep. Ocasio, Sen. Markey, et alia are exempt, of course, because they are MORALLY SUPERIOR to us peasants. Their wealth and power will increase, the more they can force us to panic, sacrifice, and atone.

The reason the priesthood is unconcerned about China, India, Africa, and so forth — despite their much larger populations, vastly larger industrial output, and indifference to Western climate hypochondria — is that priesthoods know how to abuse a captive audience, which the Climatistas have in the West, thanks to compliant media.

The unwashed Third World can go along their merry way without being scolded, until the Climatistas gain absolute global power. That too, will never happen — any more than the advanced world will ever run entirely on solar panels, windmills and batteries. The proof of the Climatistas’ exercise in futility is: When was the world ever unanimous about ANYTHING?

March 17, 2023 6:06 am

The US uses about 30 trillion cu ft per year
The US exports about 100 million metric ton of LNG per year, which is steadily increasing.
The exports are mostly for geo-political purposes and to make money, all at the consequence of higher prices of many things in the US

Reply to  wilpost
March 17, 2023 7:17 am

Some comparison math for LNG exports vs. domestic use:

1 metric ton liquefied natural gas (LNG) = 48,700 cubic feet of natural gas
100m * 48.7k = 4.87t cu ft exported/yr
4.87t / 30t = 16% exported vs domestic use

It doesnot add up
Reply to  wilpost
March 17, 2023 7:55 am

I don’t think that exports are pushing up US prices. They help fund imports and prevent the dollar from sliding against other currencies. There is no evidence that domestic gas prices are being pulled up by export parity netback pricing. The ability to turn down gas export in a crisis actually provides increased security for domestic supply.

If prices run higher it is because of not enough drilling. For now, Henry Hub is really quite low. $2.50/MMBtu is not massively profitable.

Reply to  wilpost
March 17, 2023 8:32 am

What’s the matter with making money?
Why do you feel the government has a right to tell the gas companies what they can do with the product that they legally own?

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  MarkW
March 17, 2023 11:01 am

It is an individual company’s responsibility to make money for themselves. It is the federal government’s responsibility to be concerned about the welfare of the entire country. The latter is, hopefully, not as myopic as the individual companies. It is related to the reason that the government can impose import/export fees and taxes, or prohibit the import of dangerous exotic plants and animals, despite someone legally owning said plants/animals being deprived of the opportunity to make money.

Reply to  Clyde Spencer
March 17, 2023 5:55 pm

I agree with you regarding endangerment. However preventing a company from exporting merely so that someone else can pay less for said product is theft from the company.

Kevin Kilty
March 17, 2023 7:45 am

The mad rush to replace coal with natural gas involves one further bad effect that I have been trying to get across to people. Natural gas is the highest quality fossil fuel we have. It’s clean, it is easy to transport right to people’s home through pipe that is easy to install and extend, it can serve many purposes from cooking to drying clothes and heating buildings and homes. It can even run vehicles and is an input to all sorts of chemical industries. Electrical energy is only marginally higher quality.

It makes no sense to use one’s highest quality fossil fuel to make electrical energy and put up with the thermal inefficiencies involved. One should probably use the lowest rank coal that will do the job as this fuel has no other immediate markets.

By rapidly forcing natural gas to do all the work, including making up for the shortcomings of so-called renewables, will probably result is supply issues at some point with attendant rising prices.

Reply to  Kevin Kilty
March 17, 2023 8:34 am

Nobody is forcing utilities to burn gas instead of coal. They are doing it because since the frakking revolution, gas is cheaper..
Do you want to make electricity even more expensive by forcing the utilities to burn coal instead?

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  MarkW
March 17, 2023 11:04 am

If there is no market for the low-grade coal it ought to be cheap. Are you suggesting that the utilities haven’t been under political pressure to reduce their CO2 emissions?

Reply to  Clyde Spencer
March 17, 2023 5:58 pm

There is a market for low-grade coal. Do you believe that all the coal plants were shut down over night?
What’s happened is that as coal plants wear out, they are replaced with gas plants. Since coal plants have a 50 to 60 year life span, the transition takes a long time.
Coal prices have fallen, and the increased demand for natural gas has also caused the price of natural gas to increase.
Utilities also increase the utilization of their existing natural gas plants and decrease the utilization of their coal plants.

Andy Pattullo
March 18, 2023 11:00 am

It seems that no matter how much climate virtue the grinning policy hacks wear on their sleeves, they just can’t get a break. All those millions of taxpayers they claim to be helping to a greener future, refuse to give up on their demands for heat, light and sustenance that can only be delivered within the framework of real physics and economics. Unicorns don’t fart enough, renewable fairies don’t breed enough and energy magicians just can’t be found in suitable numbers to escape reality.

%d bloggers like this:
Verified by MonsterInsights