Consumption of renewable energy increased 3% in 2003, with ethanol usage constituting a significant portion of that increase, according to the U.S. Department of Energy’s recently released “Renewable Energy Trends 2003” report.

According to the report, ethanol use in the transportation sector increased from 156 trillion British thermal units (Btu) in 2002 to 220 trillion Btu in 2003, a 41% increase.

The increase in ethanol usage was attributed to its primary use as an oxygenate additive in reformulated gasoline and its replacement of MTBE, which until recently was the primary oxygenate additive.

MTBE has been shown to contaminate groundwater, and the report noted MTBE consumption has declined from 313 trillion Btu in 2001 to 225 trillion Btu in 2003.

The report also provides an overview and historical data for trends in renewable energy from 1999 to 2002, including revisions and preliminary data for 2003. To read the report, click here.