A BTU, short for British Thermal Unit, is a standard energy measurement. It is the amount of energy needed to heat one pound of water one degree Fahrenheit. BTUs measure energy for both electricity and transportation fuels.
10.5 quadrillion BTUs is:
The number of BTUs Wyoming produced in 2010
Greater than the energy consumed by all 114 million U.S. households in a single year
14% of energy produced in the U.S.
10% of all energy consumed in the U.S.
Wyoming’s legacy as an energy state began hundreds of millions of years ago. Ancient seas that covered Wyoming gave way to massive forests and swamps, where hundreds of feet of organic materials accumulated. Under ideal temperature and pressure, immense amounts of coal, oil and natural gas deposits formed. Today, these resources are converted to low cost electricity and fuel for millions of people nationwide—and increasingly, around the world.
Beyond fossil fuels, Wyoming’s diverse energy portfolio is made possible by our unique geologic and geographic characteristics. From coal, oil, gas, uranium and wind—Wyoming is the leading exporter of British Thermal Units (BTUs) to the rest of the country. In 2010, we produced 10.5 quadrillion BTUs but consumed only .5 quadrillion BTUs within the state’s borders. In a global context, if Wyoming were a country, we would rank 10th in overall energy production.
- What is a BTU?
Every day, more than 80 trains, each a mile long, roll out from the nation’s top coal producing state to power plants in 37 states. These trains hauled more than 397 million tons of the 401 million tons of coal produced in 2012. There are sufficient coal reserves in Wyoming to keep producing at our current rate for the next 140 years. Coal is a significant source of power for the country, accounting for nearly 42 percent of the nation’s electricity. The Energy Information Agency of the U.S. Department of Energy estimates that U.S. electricity generation will increase by .9 percent each year through 2040. Coal is projected to make up the largest share of fuel for electricity production, although it will decline from its current level to 35 percent in 2040. This projected decrease is based on federal environmental regulations and low-priced, abundant natural gas. China is the largest coal user in the world today, followed by the U.S. By 2020, however, India is expected to be the largest net importer of coal.
Oil and Gas
Wyoming is the 3rd leading producer of natural gas, with 2.143 trillion cubic feet produced in 2011. Wyoming supplies natural gas to homes and businesses in 34 states. We have over 35 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in reserves, which is 12 percent of the U.S. total. Wyoming is the 8th largest oil producer in the U.S. In 2011, sales of Wyoming crude oil production totaled 54.7 million barrels. At the beginning of 2011, Wyoming ranked 10th in the nation in proven reserves of crude oil. Advancements in hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling are significantly changing the domestic production of oil and gas. Domestic oil production is expected to rise from its 2011 level of 5.7 million barrels per day to 7.5 million barrels per day by 2019. It is projected that, during the 2020’s, the U.S. will be the largest oil-producing nation, overtaking Saudi Arabia. North America will be a net oil exporter by 2030. The U.S. is expected to see increased demand from manufacturing, increased electricity generation, and increased usage of natural gas as a transportation fuel. It is anticipated that the U.S. will export 1.6 trillion cubic feet of liquefied natural gas by 2025.
In 2011, Wyoming mines produced an estimated 1.6 million pounds of uranium, making Wyoming the number one producer in the nation. The U.S. only produces about 5.5 million pounds, less than 5 percent of the world’s supply. The 104 U.S. reactors consume 55 million pounds of yellowcake each year. Over 95 percent of that yellowcake is imported from countries including Russia, Canada, Kazakhstan and Australia. Generation from nuclear power plants is expected to grow from 790 billion kilowatt-hours in 2011 to 903 billion kilowatt-hours in 2040. Nuclear power currently represents 19 percent of total generation. About one pound of uranium can produce the same amount of power as 20,000 pounds of coal.
Wyoming ranks 11th in the nation for installed renewable generation. As of 2011, Wyoming has 1,412 megawatts of renewable generation installed. There are 14 wind power projects in Wyoming that are broken into 29 phases of construction or producing units. Research shows that Wyoming has some of the nation’s greatest high-class wind resources. Renewable generation is expected to grow to 16 percent of total electric generation in the U.S. by 2040. Wyoming has a long history of hydroelectric dams, dating back to the early 1900s. There are 15 hydropower plants on 10 reservoirs, with a capacity of 300 megawatts. The state may have other opportunities for geothermal and solar power by taking advantage of our thermal wonders and sunny climate.
Assuming the U.S. economy strengthens and other nations develop their economies, energy use will grow. World energy consumption is expected to grow by 53 percent from 2008 to 2035. The national and international markets will create new opportunities—and challenges for domestic energy to meet this demand. New technologies and markets continue to evolve, and the competitive landscape is changing with new products, synthetic fuels, and gases and liquids being developed from raw energy sources. Most of Wyoming’s energy resources are sold into commodity markets. We must continuously strive to add value to our energy resources.
In order to meet the challenges ahead, Wyoming must:
Lead in development, production, generation and exports
Create affordable, abundant, reliable power and fuel production
Maintain and grow energy market share
Innovate by adding value to resources