Wednesday 13 February 2019

US power sector cuts carbon intensity through 2018

US power sector cuts carbon intensity through 2018

The US electricity sector continued to improve its carbon intensity through 2018 due to cleaner generation and energy efficiency improvements.

That's according to a new report published by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) and the Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE), which shows this happened despite GDP rising and volatile weather boosting energy demand, both of which contributed to a rise in economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions.

It shows energy efficiency investments reached new heights, with several states adopting new building energy codes and total national spending on efficiency measures through formal frameworks climbing to a record level of $15 billion (£11.6bn).

Gas capacity rose to a record 35% of the country's power generation, while at the same time, natural gas production hit record highs at more than 82 billion cubic feet per day.

Installations of renewables hit 19.5GW in 2018, with solar accounting for a combined 11.6GW, followed by wind at 7.5GW.

The US also added added 142MW of new hydropower, 103MW of new biomass and waste-to-energy and 53MW of geothermal energy through the year.

Businesses such as retailers, technology firms and even an oil major contracted record volumes of renewable power through signed contracts, with many others pledging to double energy productivity or to green their vehicle fleets.

The popularity of electric vehicles (EVs) doubled, rising from 1.3% of total vehicles sold in the 4th quarter of 2017 to 3% by the fourth quarter of 2018.

This happened as lithium-ion battery prices dropped another 18% year-on-year, boosting both EVs and stationary storage applications and encouraging more uptake of intermittent renewables.

Ethan Zindler, BNEF's Head of Americas, said: "More coal plants closing and being replaced by cleaner sources of power marked a key trend that continued in 2018.

"However, the overall jump in carbon dioxide emissions during 2018 is a clear reminder that technological advancements on their own cannot address the climate challenge. Strong, supportive policies are needed at the local, state, as well as federal level.”

Written by

Bruna Pinhoni

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