When was the last time you filled your tank? If you’re like many Americans, the COVID-19 pandemic has kept you sheltered at home for weeks while your car has had a relaxed vacation in the garage.
Our new “normal” has decreased our reliance on gasoline considerably. While far too many people are simply unemployed, more workers than ever have found ways to work from home–avoiding commutes, that in some cases can be an hour or more. In other cases, families have canceled non-essential travel plans whether by car, motorhome, or plane.
The US Energy Information Administration tracks petroleum demand by reporting gasoline products supplied to distribution centers for consumers (i.e., gas stations). The change over the past weeks is staggering.
Between January 1 and March 13, the average amount of gasoline shipped for sale to consumers was 8.9 million barrels per day. In the weeks following the announcement of shelter-at-home guidelines, those numbers dropped 40% to 5.3 million barrels per day as of the week ending April 17. According to AAA, the current average gas price for a gallon of gas nationwide is $1.77. That’s a 39% drop from gas prices just a year ago.
The change to airline travel has been even more staggering. Since many businesses, parks, and amusement venues have closed, consumption by airlines for jet fuel has decreased 62% from 1.6 million barrels per day to 612 thousand barrels per day.
Distillate Fuel Oil
Distillate Fuel Oil is a measure of primarily diesel fuel consumed by our trucking, locomotive, and agricultural industries. This type of fuel has declined the least, showing only a 20% drop in consumption from pre-shelter weeks. This smaller decrease in demand explains why diesel gasoline prices have not dropped in price at the pump as much as prices for motor gasoline.
What does this mean for alternative energy sources?
Once shelter-at-home guidelines are lifted, global demand for petroleum products is expected to rebound. However, it is promising that during this time, many workers and consumers may have identified and implemented practices that make them more efficient users of energy resources. For example, in large metropolitan areas we may see an increased use of work-from-home with in-person/in-the-office workdays more limited to those where group meetings are scheduled.
By combining increased use of clean energy solutions such as electronic vehicles with more efficient daily travel decisions, we could very well see a bigger positive impact to our environment and our communities in terms of cleaner air and water than we anticipated.
Want to learn more about electric vehicles and other forms of alternative energy?
The Rogue Valley Clean Cities Coalition’s mission is enhancing the livability of the Rogue Valley. We promote and educate on alternate fuels, seek to decrease dependency on petroleum, and promote clean air and water in the Rogue Valley via alternate fuels. Contact us today for more information!