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New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services

The environmental and economic impacts of energy use are significant. Throughout New Hampshire, the nation, and the world, meeting energy demands with available, affordable energy, without compromising environmental quality, is an ongoing challenge. Energy use – specifically the burning of fossil fuels for electricity, transportation, and heating and cooling – accounts for the vast majority of air pollution. As a nation, Americans consume more energy than any other country. According to the US Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration, the U.S. average per capita energy consumption in 2005 was 340 million British thermal units (Btus). New Hampshire’s consumption per capita for the same period was 257 million Btus, ranking New Hampshire 45th compared to other states.

Energy Resources

Energy is produced from many resources, such as oil, nuclear, coal, wood, hydroelectric, natural gas, wind, geothermal and solar. Oil (petroleum), nuclear and natural gas are primary energy resources that are used in New Hampshire either directly or as derived energy sources such as gasoline, diesel fuel, and electricity. The chart below shows the primary (gross) energy used in New Hampshire by fuel source in 2005. Gross energy is all the energy that was put into all activities and processes in the state, including generating electricity for export. Net energy use is essentially the gross energy use minus the energy content of the electricity generated in New Hampshire and exported (this difference is 115.1 trillion British thermal units).

Click to enlarge Pie Chart; Primary (Gross) Energy Consumed in New Hampshire by Fuel Source in 2005 - (Total of 450.5 TBtus)
Source: New Hampshire Office of Energy and Planning

New Hampshire has no fossil fuel reserves, but has substantial renewable energy potential. The mountainous areas, which cover much of western New Hampshire, offer wind power potential; and numerous waterways, including the Connecticut River, are hydropower resources. In addition, forests throughout the state offer wood fuel for electricity generation.

Energy Consumption

Knowing where and how energy is consumed is important information in determining the most effective approaches for both reducing overall energy use and increasing the total amount of renewable energy in the gross energy mix. For analysis of how energy is consumed, total energy consumption may be divided into economic sectors as follows: transportation, industrial, residential, commercial and electricity generation sectors. The sectors differ in size (amount of energy consumed) and each may rely more heavily on very different fuel types. For example, the transportation sector (cars, trucks, buses, trains, and airplanes) consumes nearly as much energy as electricity generation, but it is dependent almost entirely on gasoline and diesel fuel, both petroleum products and non-renewable. The electricity generation share is large partly because it is used by all the other sectors except transportation. The chart below shows the breakdown of energy consumed in New Hampshire in 2005 for each economic sector.

Click to enlarge Pie Chart; Net Energy Used in New Hampshire by Sector in 2005 - (335.4 Tbtu)
Source: New Hampshire Office of Energy and Planning

Air Quality Impacts of Energy Use

Burning fossil fuels for transportation, electricity and heating and cooling causes most air pollution in New Hampshire. Diesel fuel and coal are the most polluting fossil fuels, natural gas is the least-polluting, and gasoline and heating oils are somewhere in the middle. Depending on what fuel is burned, pollutants released may include nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulfur dioxide (SO2), fine particle pollution, carbon dioxide (CO2), mercury (Hg), dioxin and other air toxics, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and carbon monoxide (CO). These pollutants cause or contribute to multiple public health and environmental concerns, such as ground-level ozone (smog), regional haze, climate change, acid deposition, and persistent bioaccumulative toxics.

Sources of air pollutants are classified into three broad categories: point (or stationary) sources (including power plants), area sources, and mobile (roadway) sources. Transportation and fossil-fuel burning power plants emit a particularly large proportion of the pollutants which are responsible for air-pollution related impacts on public health and the environment. Although their contributions are smaller, residential, commercial, and other industrial sources cannot be ignored (see table below).

Approximate Source Contribution of Pollutants
Related to Energy Use
Sources NOx SO2 CO2 Mercury
Mobile Sources (Transportation) 57% 7% 37% Unknown*
Power Plants (Electricity) 20% 81% 30% 40%
Other Point
(Industrial) Sources
8% 9% 10% 38%
Area Sources
15% 3% 23% 22%
* EPA has not yet developed emission factors for transportation sources. Source: NHDES and US EPA

Addressing Energy Needs and Air Quality Simultaneously

Energy conservation and efficiency measures, which reduce electricity generation and the amount of fuel needed for heat and transportation, coupled with renewable energy sources, are among the most effective measures for reducing air pollution since they result in simultaneous reductions of all pollutants. This translates into improved public health and environmental quality, and results in economic benefits to all energy-use sectors.

Energy conservation and efficiency policies have shifted over the past two decades from a focus on “using less fuel and saving electricity” to “using energy more effectively.” Today, energy conservation and efficiency go hand-in-hand. Together, they mean getting the most from every energy unit, thereby reducing the demand for energy and improving the ultimate performance or service that is provided. Energy conservation and efficiency practices take advantage of advances in technology to provide significantly better, smarter, more cost-effective products and services.

Higher-than-traditional efficiency technologies now exist for almost every end use. Examples include replacing existing appliances with more modern, energy efficient models, installing efficient new heating systems in buildings, increasing insulation and window and door weather stripping, optimizing systems for lights and heating/cooling, and purchasing more fuel-efficient vehicles. Energy use can also be reduced through wise product use. For example, reducing, reusing, and recycling products may reduce the amount of energy needed for raw material procurement, product manufacture, and product distribution and disposal/recycling. Commercial and residential building design improvements also present significant opportunities to improve energy conservation and efficiency.

“What” products are used and “how” they are used can greatly impact the amount of energy required (i.e., the demand side of energy use) and ultimately the amount of air pollution that is released from energy consuming sources (like cars, trucks and power plants). Products and practices that improve energy conservation and efficiency produce multiple consumer and societal benefits. Not only do they reduce air pollution, but they save consumers money, increase comfort, enhance the economy, and promote national security.

The choice of fuels to provide energy for electricity, heat, and transportation (i.e., the supply side of energy use) also has an impact on air quality and the economy. For example, heating with natural gas is less polluting than oil or coal. Additionally, the use of renewable energy sources such as the sun and wind result in zero or near zero net emissions. New Hampshire has abundant, underutilized renewable energy resources such as biomass, geothermal, hydro, wind, wave, tidal and solar energy.

Much or most of the renewable energy used in New Hampshire can come from indigenous sources. This keeps jobs and energy dollars in local economies, where the multiplier effect actually creates more money and helps sustain rural communities. Increased use of renewables can reduce vulnerability to energy disruptions, create more jobs and retain more energy dollars in local economies. To that end, New Hampshire is committed to obtaining 25 percent of its energy from renewable sources by the year 2025.

NH Department of Environmental Services | 29 Hazen Drive | PO Box 95 | Concord, NH 03302-0095
(603) 271-3503 | TDD Access: Relay NH 1-800-735-2964 | Hours: M-F, 8am-4pm

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