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Americans used less energy in 2011 than in the previous year, due mainly to a shift to higher-efficiency energy technologies in the transportation and residential sectors, according to new energy flowcharts released by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Meanwhile, less coal was used, but more natural gas was consumed, according to the most recent energy flow charts released. Wind power saw the biggest jump - from .92 quadrillion BTU, or quads, in 2010 up to 1.17 quads in 2011. Solar power usage, meanwhile, grew to 0.158 quads.

"Wind energy jumped significantly because, as in previous years, many new wind farms came online," says A.J. Simon, an LLNL energy systems analyst who develops the flowcharts using data provided by the Department of Energy's Energy Information Administration. "This is the result of sustained investment in wind power."

Hydroelectricity also saw an increase, from 2.51 quads in 2010 to 3.17 quads in 2011. Hydroelectricity jumped significantly in 2011 because 2011 saw large amounts of precipitation in the Western U.S., the report adds.

Overall, U.S. energy use in 2011 equaled 97.3 quads, compared to the 98 quads used in 2010. Most of the energy was tied to coal, natural gas and petroleum. However, from 2010 to 2011, use of coal fell dramatically, use of oil (petroleum) fell slightly and use of natural gas increased slightly, from 24.65 quads in 2010 to 24.9 quads in 2011.


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