To better assess the scale of change needed to achieve West Chester Area’s 2035 and 2050 renewable energy goals, it is important to understand the current breakdown of energy generation sources, utility projections for future electricity generation, and baseline forecasted energy consumption and supply. This analysis outlines the current energy generation sources throughout the West Chester Area and the expected changes to the electricity supply through the year 2050.
The following data and images are taken from the 2020 Cadmus Report.
CURRENT ENERGY CONSUMPTION
Based on most recent available data, the West Chester Area consumes approximately 14,000 billion BTU (British Thermal Units) annually. The bulk of West Chester’s energy demand (~88%) is sourced from fossil fuels, either directly (combustion of natural gas for heat and transportation) or indirectly (combustion of natural gas or coal for electricity). The energy profile (shown to the right) encompasses all of the ways that the West Chester Area uses energy, which may be thought of as falling under two broad categories: electricity, and heating + transportation.
West Chester’s electricity mix is heavily dependent on non-renewables. A third of the electricity supply comes from nuclear power plants, and a similar share comes from natural gas plants. Coal consumption has decreased significantly over the last decade but still generates approximately 20 percent of electricity, which is significantly more than electricity from renewable sources. Renewables, such as wind, solar, hydropower, and biomass, make up just over 1 percent of the overall energy mix. Figure 3 illustrates the energy consumption by fuel type and electricity source.
The heating + transportation energy mix is also predominately sourced by fossil fuels. Breaking down fossil fuel use in West Chester further, over one third of all energy consumed is sourced from gasoline alone. Natural gas comprises around a third of the energy mix as well, and is used extensively for heating. Fuel oil, diesel, coal, and propane are primarily used for heating and each comprise a small, but considerable portion of the energy mix.
Figure 4 (shown to the right), shows which sectors are using West Chester’s energy. The buildings sector (Residential + Commercial and Industrial) constitutes 60% of all energy consumed. Most of the energy consumed in Commercial buildings comes from their electricity and natural gas whereas residential buildings primarily consume just natural gas. The transportation sector predominantly uses gasoline, with a relatively small share of diesel. As of current, electric vehicles (EV) comprise a minimal amount of transportation energy consumption for the West Chester Area.
DVRPC - REGIONAL ENERGY USE AND GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS INVENTORY
Tracking energy use, energy expenditures, and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is the first step in developing informed regional and local policies to increase energy efficiency and reduce GHG emissions. Starting in 2005, The Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) has inventoried energy use and GHG emissions in Greater Philadelphia every five years.