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Energy Consumption from Coal Soars


Missouri consumes a lot of energy, and the amount we consume has grown over the years. In 1960, Missouri consumed about 900 trillion Btu of energy. In 2010, however, Missouri consumed about 1,928 trillion Btu, more than double the 1960 amount. How much is 1,928 trillion Btu? The atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima is estimated to have released 67 TJ of energy. Using this estimate, the energy consumed by Missouri in 2010 was the equivalent of more than 30,000 Hiroshima bombs.

MO Consumpt by Source 1960-2010The chart at right shows Missouri’s energy consumption by source from 1960-2010. The dark blue line at the top of the chart is coal. The orange line is gasoline. The red line is natural gas. The green line is distillate fuel oil (includes heating oil, diesel fuel and fuel oil for several other purposes). These are the four largest sources of energy consumed in Missouri.

Ten other sources are represented by lines at the bottom of the chart – it looks like a plate of colored spaghetti. Consumption of none of them is significantly above 100 trillion Btu per year. The purple line represents Nuclear Electric Energy. It is at zero until 1984, when it jumps up to be the fifth highest consumption source – 1984 is when the Callaway Nuclear Generating Station came on-line.

Almost all of the lines show an upward trend over time, especially coal. By 2010, consumption of coal energy was 4.7 times as large as it was in 1960. Natural gas is the only exception–natural gas consumption peaked in 1970, then declined until about 1987, and has risen only slightly since then.

Between 1960 and 2010, Missouri’s population increased. Thus, one would expect the amount of energy consumed to grow, even if each individual consumed the same amount. In my next post, I will explore how per capita energy consumption has changed over time.


On the Hiroshima nuclear bomb: Little Boy, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Boy.

For the energy data: Missouri State Profile and Energy Estimates, Table CT2. Primary energy Consumption Estimates, Selected Years, 19600-2010, Missouri, Energy Information Administration, http://www.eia.gov/state/seds/data.cfm?incfile=/state/seds/sep_use/total/use_tot_MOcb.html&sid=MO.

For technical notes on the energy data: Technical Notes & Documentation – Complete 2010, Missouri State Profile and Energy Estimates, Energy Information Administration, http://www.eia.gov/state/seds/seds-technical-notes-complete.cfm?sid=MO#Consumption.

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