Between 2002 and 2010, the total energy consumption of manufacturers decreased 17 percent while gross output dropped just 3 percent, indicating a significant improvement in manufacturing efficiency, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said this week.
Manufacturers used more than 14 quadrillion BTUs of energy as a fuel in 2010, a 13 percent drop from 2002, according to the EIA. Fuel energy is used for power and heating.
Fuel consumption in the five most energy-intensive subsectors accounted for 81 percent of all fuel use in manufacturing. Two high-energy sectors — petroleum/coal and food — had 3.5 percent increases in their fuel consumption.
Energy used as a feedstock, or as part of the production process, is more than 6 percent of all energy consumed in the country, according to EIA. However, 99 percent of feedstock energy in manufacturing occurs in just three sectors: primary metals, chemicals and petroleum/coal products.
Some manufacturing industries grew their productivity during the eight-year period, including petroleum/coal and food. Petroleum/coal grew its gross output by 3 percent, while food industries grew output by 5 percent. Employment in the sectors declined by 6,000 jobs for petroleum/coal and by 115,000 jobs in food, signaling increases in labor productivity, according to EIA.
The information comes from EIA's 2010 Manufacturing Energy Consumption Survey, which is being released this year. It's the eighth survey of the sector since 1985 and has been conducted every four years since 1994.