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Summary: Little Meaningful Progress on Energy in Missouri, 2016

In the previous three posts, I have analyzed energy consumption per capita, energy consumption per unit of State GDP, and consumption of energy produced from coal and from renewables. I have made this analysis for Missouri and for the surrounding states of Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, and Kansas. As part of these posts, I have said that, because emissions from power plants burning fossil fuel to create energy are a principle cause of climate change, acid rain, air pollution, and mercury contamination, it is essential that we either reduce our consumption of energy, or we transition away from the use of fossil fuel, especially coal, to renewable energy.

I do not see signs that we are making good progress. Overall energy consumption has increased in all 5 states. Each individual’s consumption of energy (per capita basis) has significantly increased in some states, held roughly steady in some states, or slightly declined in some states. Considering the states as a group, there is NO strong trend towards decreasing per capita energy consumption!

Since 1997 the amount of energy required to produce a unit of State GDP has declined. That’s good, but the increase in GDP in all of the states has overwhelmed the effect of greater efficiency, resulting in increased consumption overall. This is like buying stuff on sale. The lower price is no doubt good, but we are buying so much more stuff that we are blowing our budget! And we will pay the price.

Four out of the five states have made progress transitioning from coal energy to renewable energy. But in only one, Iowa, is the progress really significant. In Iowa, the consumption of energy from renewables has soared: almost one unit of energy from renewables is consumed for every unit of energy from coal. But in each of the 4 other states, progress is slow; renewable energy consumption is still dwarfed by coal.

For Missouri, our per capita energy consumption has increased since 1980 from 289 to 314 trillion Btu per person. Energy consumption per dollar of State GDP has declined by 9.3% from 8.13 to 7.37 thousand Btu per dollar. However, our State GDP has increased, and total energy consumption has increased from 1,422.9 to 1,857 trillion Btu, a 30.5% increase. The ratio of energy from renewables to energy from coal almost tripled, from 4.7% to 11.7%. It is starting from such a small base, however, that the increase is not meaningful, and we still consume more than 7 units of coal energy for every unit of renewable energy. This is the worst ratio of any of the 5 states.

Sources:

In this 4-post series, data from the following data portals were used:

Missouri Energy Consumption, Clean Energy in My State, Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, Department of Energy, http://apps1.eere.energy.gov/states/consumption.cfm?state=MO&dollars=0#tecpd.

State Energy Data System (SEDS), U.S. Department of Energy. This is a data portal. Select Consumption Statistics, then Sector, Total end-use. Data downloaded 6/14/2016 from http://www.eia.gov/state/seds/seds-data-complete.cfm?sid=IL#Consumption.

Real GDP by State (millions of chained 2009 dollars), GDP & Personal Income, Regional Data, Bureau of Economic Analysis. Data downloaded 6/14/2016 from http://www.bea.gov/iTable/iTable.cfm?reqid=70&step=1&isuri=1&acrdn=2#reqid=70&step=10&isuri=1&7003=900&7035=-1&7004=naics&7005=-1&7006=05000,17000,19000,20000,29000&7036=-1&7001=1900&7002=1&7090=70&7007=-1&7093=levels.

Energy Consumption per Unit of GDP Decreases in Missouri

In the previous post, I found that the amount of energy consumed per person per year grew until 2007, then decreased, and now has begun increasing again. Overall, there was no trend toward reduced energy consumption per person. This post looks at similar data, except instead of looking at energy consumption per person, I look at energy consumption per unit of GDP. A state’s GDP is the total amount of goods and services produced in the state during a given year.

Figure 1. Data source: U.S. Dept. of Energy and Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Figure 1. Data source: U.S. Dept. of Energy and Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Figure 1 at right shows how many thousands of British Thermal Units (Btus) of energy were consumed per dollar of Gross State Product for Missouri and four neighboring states: Arkansas, Iowa, Illinois, and Kansas. The data is for chained 2009 dollars; that is, it is adjusted for inflation, with 2009 being the baseline year. Notice that the data series begins in 1997, whereas the data series in the previous post begins in 1980. The Bureau of Economic Analysis changed its method for calculating state GDP in 1997.

(Click on chart for larger view.)

For all states, the number of 1000 Btus consumed per dollar of GDP has decreased over time. This means that we are consuming less energy per dollar of economic output: it is taking less energy to produce a unit of economic output. Compared to 1997, it declined most in Arkansas and Kansas, where it decline 25.13% and 22.32% respectively. It declined least in Missouri and Iowa, where it declined 9.32% and4.57% respectively.

Figure 2. Data source: Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Figure 2. Data source: Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Figure 2 shows the cumulative percent change in GDP from 1997 for the 5 states (cumulative means each year is compared to 1997). You can see that there has been a marked difference in economic growth between the states. Kansas, Arkansas, and Iowa have each grown their GDP by more than 30% since 1997, while Missouri and Illinois have been slower growers.

Cumulative change in State GDP was negatively correlated with change in energy consumption per capita in Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, and Kansas, but positively correlated in Iowa. This means that in Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, and Kansas, increased GDP was associated with lower per capita energy consumption, but not in Iowa. Why Iowa should differ from the other four is not immediately clear.

Well, this data set is small, and several of the correlations probably do not reach statistical significance. Thus, these analyses are interesting and suggestive, but far from conclusive. They suggest that economic growth may be associated with greater energy efficiency, both on a per capita and per unit of GDP basis. It would be a fascinating study for a university student.

Even if it is so, do not make the mistake of thinking that greater energy efficiency wipes out the increase in energy consumption that comes from increased population or increased economic activity. All 4 states showed increases in total energy consumption between 1997 and 2014. It is like buying stuff on sale: if you buy more stuff, it more than wipes out the savings you get from the sale.

It is an unfortunate fact that the very energy that enables our modern life style also creates many of our most serious problems.

Sources:

State Energy Data System (SEDS), U.S. Department of Energy. This is a data portal. Select Consumption Statistics, then Sector, Total end-use. Data downloaded 6/14/2016 from http://www.eia.gov/state/seds/seds-data-complete.cfm?sid=IL#Consumption.

Real GDP by State (millions of chained 2009 dollars), GDP & Personal Income, Regional Data, Bureau of Economic Analysis. Data downloaded 6/14/2016 from http://www.bea.gov/iTable/iTable.cfm?reqid=70&step=1&isuri=1&acrdn=2#reqid=70&step=10&isuri=1&7003=900&7035=-1&7004=naics&7005=-1&7006=05000,17000,19000,20000,29000&7036=-1&7001=1900&7002=1&7090=70&7007=-1&7093=levels.

Per Capita Energy Consumption in Missouri Increases

Energy consumption is not an environmental topic per se, but it becomes one because so many of the environmental challenges we face derive from the processes we use to obtain energy, and from the emissions that occur when we use it. Climate change, acid rain, air pollution, and mercury contamination all come primarily from burning fossil fuel to create energy. Turning on the air conditioning, flipping the light switch, starting our car – these are how we consume energy and cause all these problems.

Because of the many differences between states, especially population and economic activity, raw comparisons between states are meaningless. To adjust for these differences, I will use per capita comparisons, and comparisons per dollar of Gross State Product. In this post I compare Missouri’s per capita energy consumption to that of four surrounding states. In my next post, I will compare the amount of Gross State Product generated per unit of energy consumed.

Figure 1. Data Source: Department of Energy.

Figure 1. Data Source: Department of Energy.

Figure 1 at right shows per capita energy consumption for Missouri and for four surrounding states: Arkansas, Iowa, Illinois, and Kansas. The graph covers the years 1980-2014.

(For larger view click on chart.)

Since 1980, per capita energy consumption has grown significantly in Iowa, and slightly in Missouri and Illinois. It has declined slightly in Kansas, and in Arkansas in 2014 it was precisely the same as in 1980. Missouri began the period as the lowest consumer of energy per capita among the five states, and finished the period tied with Illinois for lowest.

Over the years, Missouri’s per capita energy consumption grew from 289 million BTU per person in 1980 to 339 million BTU per person in 2005. Then it declined to 296 million in 2012, and since then, it has been growing again.

The trend for per capita energy consumption nationally follows the same general shape as in Missouri. It peaked slightly higher, however, and was at 309 million BTU per person in 2014 (compared to 314 in Missouri).

On a raw basis, all 5 states have increased total energy consumption. In Missouri it has grown from 1,422.9 to 1,857 trillion Btu, a 30.5% increase.

I would attribute the general shape of the trend nationally and in Missouri to economic factors. Growth in energy consumption slows when economic growth slows, and increases when economic growth increases. There does not yet appear to be a widespread trend toward lower per capita energy consumption in Missouri or nationally.

I don’t know for sure why the energy consumption in Iowa has grown while it has declined in the other four states, but by the end of the following post we may have a good guess.

Source:

Missouri Energy Consumption, Clean Energy in My State, Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, Department of Energy, http://apps1.eere.energy.gov/states/consumption.cfm?state=MO&dollars=0#tecpd.

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