Total energy consumption continues to grow in Kansas. However, Kansas is more energy efficient than 20 years ago. In 1998, 70% less energy was required per dollar of gross state product than it was in 1977. Growth in total energy consumption slowed after 1980, while the State economy has continued its rapid growth. However, Kansas and the U.S. are rapidly changing how energy is delivered. We are moving to increased dependence on electricity. Over the last 40 years, electricity's share of Kansas energy consumption has doubled from 15% to nearly 33%. With electric industry restructuring and increased uncertainty in environmental demands, today’s additions to baseload capacity are overwhelmingly combined-cycle or combustion turbine technology fueled by natural gas. The result is an extremely rapid and accelerating growth in demand for natural gas for electric generation

Fossil fuels - oil, natural gas, and coal - make up 91% of the energy consumed by Kansans. Fossil fuels will continue to dominate energy markets in Kansas, the nation, and the world for at least the next 20 - 40 years27. Kansas oil and gas fields are entering a third phase of production that will require increased technology and capital investment. Alternative energy sources will increase and if economically viable should be encouraged in the coming years. An economic and measured approach that integrates new energy sources (e.g., wind and ethanol production from agricultural production) into the Kansas energy system can have a positive impact. Increased synergy and efficiencies are possible among all the various aspects of the Kansas energy system. However, Kansas and U. S energy supply will continue to be dominated by fossil fuels. Alternative energy does not appear to have the potential for a major short-term impact on energy supply.

Until the energy price collapse in mid-1980s, Kansas was a net exporter of energy (Figure 26). More energy was produced in the Kansas than was consumed, thereby allowing energy to be exported outside of the State. Since then, the steadily declining oil and gas production that followed steadily declining wellhead prices, coupled with increasing consumption, has pushed Kansas into a neutral position - our consumption of energy is roughly matched by our production.

Worldwide petroleum demand is climbing at about 2.4% annually, and will continue to increase with the growing prosperity in Asia and elsewhere. A new and fast growing "consumer class" is appearing in the emerging economies of the world. China, India, Pakistan, and Indonesia, with 40% of the world's population, use less than 1 barrel of oil per capita/year (U.S. consumption is approximately 24 barrels of crude oil per capita per year). The rest of the world is entering the mass consumer age where everyone wants electric power, consumer items, and motorized transportation. How will the U.S. and Kansas compete on the world market for the energy supply required to maintain our economy?

The U.S. is the third largest producer of oil and the largest producer of natural gas in the world. Kansas remains a significant producer of primary energy. However, we no longer encourage investment in the technology, people, and capital required to maintain our energy infrastructure.

Without a significant increase in primary energy supply in the coming years, Kansas will become a significant net importer of energy. Kansas will need to sell more products outside of the State to pay for our growing energy demands. Innovative methods to increase the production of clean, copious, and low-cost energy will be required to avoid shrinking the Kansas economy.

Figure 26 - Kansas net energy production, 1960-1998.

Updated January 2001
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