Washington: Americans used more solar, nuclear, biomass and wind energy in 2008 than they did the year before, according to latest energy flow charts released by Lawrence Livermore National Lab (LLNL).
The US used less coal and oil during the same time frame and only slightly increased its natural gas consumption. Geothermal energy use remained the same.
The estimated US energy use in 2008 equalled 99.2 quadrillion BTUs ("quads"), down from 101.5 quadrillion BTUs in 2007. (A BTU or British Thermal Unit is a unit of measurement for energy).
Energy use in the industrial and transportation sectors declined by 1.17 and 0.9 quads respectively while commercial and residential use slightly climbed.
The drop in transportation and industrial use - which are both heavily dependent on petroleum - can be attributed to a spike in oil prices in summer 2008.
Last year saw a significant increase in biomass with the recent push for the development of more biofuels including ethanol.
"This is a good snapshot of what`s going on in the country. Some of the year-to-year changes in supply and consumption can be traced to factors such as the economy and energy policy," said A.J. Simon, an LLNL energy systems analyst who develops the energy flow charts using data provided by the Department of Energy`s Energy Information Administration.
Simon said the increase in wind energy can be attributed to large investments in wind turbine technologies over the last few years as well as better use of the existing turbines, said a LLNL release.
Nuclear energy also saw a slight increase from 8.41 quads in 2007 up to 8.45 quads in 2008. While no new nuclear power plants came online in 2008, the existing plants had less down time.