Carbon Emissions From Power Generation Fall To 25 Year Low

The US Energy Information Agency reports that carbon emissions from generating electricity in the US during the first six months of 2016 were the lowest since 1991. Mild weather is partly responsible for the decrease but so is the growing amount of renewable energy available to utility customers.

renewable energy lowers carbon emissions

Milder than normal winter weather led to the lowest number of heating degree days — a measure of demand for home heating — since 1949. But changes in how America generates electrical power had an impact as well. Coal and natural gas consumption were lower than in the first six months of 2015. Coal use was down 18% (Take THAT, Robert Murray!). Natural gas was down 1%. Oil use was up 1%.

In addition to noting the 25-year low for carbon emissions in the first six months of the year, the EIA believes the full year total for 2016 will be the lowest since 1992. Before we all start going around fist bumping each other, the EIA stats don’t mean we can stop worrying about climate change.

The agency says energy related carbon dioxide emissions totaled 2,530 million metric tons in the first six months of 2016. Even though it thinks total emissions for 2016 will be lower than any year since 1992, it still expects the total for this year to be 5,179 million metric tons. That’s a lot of carbon dioxide, people. If we expect to have a significant impact on climate change, that number needs to get very close to zero and remain there for 20 to 50 years.  Overall, the total primary energy consumption for the first six months of 2016 was 2% lower than for the same period in 2015.

Renewable energy rose 9% during the first 6 months of this year compared to 2015. Wind power accounted for half the increase, hydroelectric power was responsible for more than a third, and solar power the remainder of 13%. The EIA expects more gains from solar power throughout the current year than from any other power source.

The greening of the grid is good news for all of us, but especially for those who drive electric cars. Because of the rise in renewable power, an electric car driven in California today has the same carbon impact as an internal combustion car that gets 90 miles per gallon. Good luck finding one of those!

Source: Green Car Reports

Steve Hanley

Closely following the transition from internal combustion to electricity. Whether it's cars, trucks, ships, or airplanes, sustainability is the key. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.