July 30, 2019

On the Cusp of Energy Independence


  • In 2018, the U.S. had its best single-year increase in energy production.
  • American energy exports surged 64% from 2015 to 2018.
  • For the first time since 1973, the U.S. was a net energy producer for two consecutive months, in September and October 2018.

Thanks to a historic increase in energy production, the United States has very nearly achieved energy independence. U.S. energy producers broke records in 2018, including: most electricity produced by natural gas, most crude oil produced, most electricity produced by nuclear power, most electricity produced by solar power, and most electricity produced by wind power. This surge resulted in the United States producing more energy than it consumed in September and October 2018. U.S. Energy Information Administration data going back to 1973 reveal only one other month when the United States produced more than it consumed: May 1982.

U.S. Energy Production Records in 2018


The last time America was energy independent, with production exceeding consumption for the full year, was during the Eisenhower administration in 1957.

America as energy exporter

Given the complexity of the global economy, it does not necessarily make sense for America to consume exactly the same kinds of energy it produces. For example, because of how our refineries have developed, we generally export light crude oil and import heavier crude oil. We also now produce more natural gas than we can easily use. So, America is increasingly exporting energy around the world. The number of liquefied natural gas export terminals in the United States has doubled since 2017, and overall LNG exports in 2018 were almost five times their level in 2016. Oil production increased 6% in 2017 and 17% in 2018. Crude oil exports have increased 44% since 2016.

The staggering increase in energy production led America to set an all-time record for energy exports in 2017, then break that record in 2018. Annual energy exports grew 64% from 2015 to 2018. While America is still not a net exporter, in 2018, we reached the lowest level of net imports since 1963.

LNG Exports by Year


All-of-the-above energy

As oil and natural gas have had dramatic production surges, the U.S. has also expanded its use of renewable energy. Production of renewable energy reached an all-time high in 2018 and has increased 12% since 2016. Solar energy production jumped 22% in 2018, building on a 36% jump in 2017.

Issue Tag: Energy