Tags Posts tagged with "emissions"


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The power sector will play a crucial role in attaining the European climate targets, which aim to cut greenhouse gases by at least 40% by 2030, compared to 1990. Tracking progress in the power sector is hence of utmost importance. For the fourth year in a row, the second year in a row with Agora Energiewende, Sanbag has presented the state of the energy transition in the European power sector, to update what happened in 2017, with the report The EU Power Sector Review 2017, launched at the end of January in Brussels. Key topics include renewables growth, conventional power generation, power consumption, and CO2 emissions.

The report celebrates how the wind, sun and biomass overtook coal, in supplying electricity across Europe in 2017, but also highlights some of the failings of the current electricity transition, and gives a very mixed picture: EU renewables has been increasingly reliant on the success story of wind in Germany, UK and Denmark, which has been inspiring. But other countries need to do more. Solar deployment is surprisingly low, and needs to respond to the massive falls in costs. And with electricity consumption rising for the third year, countries need to reassess their efforts on energy efficiency.

But to make the biggest difference to emissions, countries need to retire coal plants. The study forecasts Europe’s 258 operational coal plants in 2017 emitted 38% of all EU ETS emissions, or 15% of total EU greenhouse gases. In 2017, Netherlands, Italy and Portugal added their names to the list of countries to phase-out coal, which is great. We need a fast and complete coal phase-out in Europe: the thought of charging electric cars in the 2030’s with coal just doesn’t compute. A 35% renewables target would make a 2030 coal phaseout possible.

Key findings include:

• New renewables generation sharply increased in 2017, with wind, solar and biomass overtaking coal for the first time. Since Europe‘s hydro potential is largely tapped, the increase in renewables comes from wind, solar and biomass generation. They rose by 12% in 2017 to 679 Terawatt hours, putting wind, solar and biomass above coal generation for the first time. This is incredible progress, considering just five years ago, coal generation was more than twice that of wind, solar and biomass.

• But renewables growth has become even more uneven. Germany and the UK alone contributed to 56% of the growth in renewables in the past three years. There is also a bias in favor of wind: a massive 19% increase in wind generation took place in 2017, due to good wind conditions and huge investment into wind plants. This is good news since the biomass boom is now over, but bad news in that solar was responsible for just 14% of the renewables growth in 2014 to 2017.

• Electricity consumption rose by 0.7% in 2017, marking a third consecutive year of increases. With Europe‘s economy being on a growth path again, power demand is rising as well. This suggests Europe‘s efficiency efforts are not sufficient and hence the EU‘s efficiency policy needs further strengthening.

• CO2 emissions in the power sector were unchanged in 2017, and rose economy-wide. Low hydro and nuclear generation coupled with increasing demand led to increasing fossil generation. So despite the large rise in wind generation, we estimate power sector CO2 emissions remained unchanged at 1019 million tonnes. However, overall stationary emissions in the EU emissions trading sectors rose slightly from 1750 to 1755 million tonnes because of stronger industrial production especially in rising steel production. Together with additional increases in non-ETS gas and oil demand, we estimate overall EU greenhouse gas emissions rose by around 1% in 2017.

• Western Europe is phasing out coal, but Eastern Europe is sticking to it. Three more Member States announced coal phase-outs in 2017 – Netherlands, Italy and Portugal. They join France and the UK in committing to phase-out coal, while Eastern European countries are sticking to coal. The debate in Germany, Europe’s largest coal and lignite consumer, is ongoing and will only be decided in 2019.

Source: Sandbag

With its commitment to address emissions and noise regulations in Europe, EMOSS Mobile Systems has developed an Allison transmission-equipped electric semi-truck that has a range exceeding 300 miles.

The EMOSS Electric Vehicle with Extender Range (E.V.E.R.) semi-truck utilizes a 120 kilowatt-hour (kWh) battery pack and a liquefied petroleum gas electricity generator to recharge the battery and achieve maximum range. It is further equipped with an Allison 4500 fully automatic transmission and rated for a gross combination weight of up to 50 metric tons.

“For us, the Allison gearbox is the only combination that gets us the right performance,” said Martijn Noordam, chief technology officer at EMOSS. “Customers who have driven the Allison-equipped EMOSS trucks are 100-percent happy with them. They never thought a start-stop duty-cycle on a 30 percent grade was realistic, yet the truck has executed perfectly.”

Calibrated to use six forward gears when fully-laden, the Allison transmission is critical for hauling heavier payloads and navigating challenging topographies, in countries such as Switzerland and Austria, where mountains and steep slopes are frequent.

“Allison remains committed to the evolution and optimization of the drive train and all forms of commercial vehicle propulsion,” said Randy Kirk, senior vice president of product engineering at Allison. “The Allison automatic provides a proven, immediate and well-integrated solution that enables electrification across a broad range of commercial applications.”

The Allison automatic transmission is key to the driveline. The transmission provides torque multiplication to reduce demand on the electric motor and the battery pack. It also enables the electric motor to operate within the optimal efficiency range for a larger portion of the drive cycle, reducing energy consumption, extending the vehicle’s range and facilitating the use of less-expensive, lighter and smaller components.

EMOSS unveiled the Allison-equipped E.V.E.R. truck, based on a DAF chassis, in November at the eCarTec exhibition in Munich, Germany and plans to commence testing with pilot customers later this year. In addition to the E.V.E.R. truck, EMOSS is currently developing Allison transmission-equipped electric trucks for use in construction, delivery and refuse applications.  These applications include dump trucks, medium-duty straight trucks, refuse collection vehicles and additional semi-truck configurations.

With over a decade of experience in electric mobility, and its full electric powertrain development and integration expertise, EMOSS is a partner for bus and truck manufacturers. Under its own brand, EMOSS is an OEM for electric trucks, buses and vans, as well as auxiliary/battery systems.


A new policy brief co-authored by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the World Resources Institute (WRI) finds that increasing the share of renewables, in particular solar PV and wind, in India’s power mix, and implementing changes in cooling technologies mandated for thermal power plants would not only lower carbon emissions intensity, but also substantially reduce water withdrawal and consumption intensity of power generation.

The brief, Water Use in India’s Power Generation – Impact of Renewables and Improved Cooling Technologies to 2030, finds that depending on the future energy pathways (IRENA’s REmap 2030 and the Central Electricity Authority of India), a power sector (excluding hydroelectricity) transformation driven by solar PV and wind, coupled with improved cooling technologies in thermal and other renewable power plants, could yield as much as an 84% decrease in water withdrawal intensity by 2030, lower annual water consumption intensity by 25% and reduce carbon emissions intensity by 43%, compared to 2014 levels. It builds off of the findings of Parched Power: Water Demands, Risks, and Opportunities for India’s Power Sector, launched by WRI.

More than four-fifths of India’s electricity is generated from coal, gas and nuclear power plants which rely significantly on freshwater for cooling purposes. Moreover, the power sector’s share in national water consumption is projected to grow from 1.4 to 9% between 2025 and 2050, placing further stress on water resources. Renewable energy, with the added potential to reduce both water demand and carbon emissions, must hence be at the core of India’s energy future.

Key findings

The power sector contributes to and is affected by water stress. Rapid growth in freshwater-intensive thermal power generation can contribute to water stress in the areas where plants are located. Power generation is expected to account for nearly 9% of national water consumption by 2050 (in a businessas-usual scenario) – growing from 1.4% in 2025 (Central Water Commission, 2015) and this figure is likely to vary quite significantly from region to region. There is a mismatch between water demand and supply when usable surface water capacity and replenishable groundwater levels are considered. Water stress is particularly acute in naturally arid regions and areas where water is also needed for other uses such as irrigation. Confronted with growing risks to water and energy security, the power sector needs long-term approaches to reduce its dependence on freshwater while also meeting other environmental objectives such as reducing atmospheric, water and soil pollution.

The combination of improved power plant cooling technologies and»renewable energy technologies, especially solar PV and wind, could lessen the intensity of freshwater use and carbon intensity of the power sector. In its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), India committed to increasing the share of non-fossil sources in its installed power capacity to 40% by 2030. India has a related target of 175 GW of renewables capacity by 2022, including 100 GW of solar PV and 60 GW of wind. As solar PV and wind power require significantly less water than conventional and other renewable sources during the operational phase, their substantial uptake could contribute to a reduction in freshwater use as well as carbon intensity of power generation. Simultaneously, phasing out once-through cooling technologies at existing power plants and restricting their installation at new thermal plants, through enforcement of the announced regulatory water use standards, will substantially reduce water withdrawal.

By 2030, the water withdrawal intensity of the electricity generation (excluding hydropower) could be reduced by up to 84%, consumption intensity by up to 25%, and CO2 intensity by up to 43% in comparison to the 2014 baseline. Under all scenarios analysed, the Indian power sector’s freshwater and CO2 intensity (excluding hydropower) would substantially fall compared to the 2014 baseline. Even as intensities reduce, changes to absolute water withdrawal and consumption in 2030 vary. The transition from once-through to recirculating cooling systems will drastically reduce withdrawal but will increase total water consumption in most scenarios. Coupled with continuing thermal and renewable capacity development, total water consumption in 2030 is estimated to increase by up to 4 billion m3. Measures discussed in this brief to reduce freshwater and carbon intensity complement demand-side measures, such as energy efficiency improvements, thus warranting an integrated approach to power sector planning.

The joint brief was launched at the World Future Energy Summit 2018 in Abu Dhabi

Source: IRENA

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Acciona Energía has started construction work on the San Gabriel wind farm in the region of La Araucanía (Chile). The company will own and operate the 183-MW facility which will produce emission-free electricity equivalent to the consumption of over 270,000 Chilean homes.

Acciona’s production from what will be its second wind farm in Chile will be mainly used to cover the 506 GWh of electric power awarded in a public tender called by the Chilean National Energy Commission (CNE) in August 2016.

“It is with great satisfaction that we announce the start of building work on a new renewables facility in Chile, demonstrating ACCIONA’s commitment to the country through concrete actions and our solvency and reliability when it comes to materializing projects that help to create an ever more sustainable energy system in our country” says Acciona Energía Chile General Manager José Ignacio Escobar.

More than 500 jobs created in the construction phase

Located 5 kilometers east of the municipality of Renaico, around 550 km south of Santiago de Chile, the San Gabriel wind farm will be equipped with sixty-one AW132/3000 wind turbines of Nordex Acciona Windpower technology. This model is designed to optimize energy capture on sites with low wind speeds. With rated power of 3 MW, each turbine will be powered by a 132-meter-diameter rotor on a concrete tower with a hub height 120 meters, reinforced with anti-earthquake technology.

San Gabriel will be the first wind farm in Chile to incorporate concrete tower technology, a field in which Acciona has extensive international experience. It is suitable for sites where it is important to reach greater tower heights to capture the wind resource and increase energy production.

The towers will be manufactured in a provisional plant built near the site, a model that increases the level of local outsourcing of components, the creation of jobs locally and, basically, a greater impact on the economy of the area where the wind power project is implemented. It also requires less transport, which reduces costs and the associated environmental impacts.

The installation of San Gabriel will mean the creation of around 510 jobs on average during the construction period, and another 15 permanent jobs for the operation and maintenance of the wind farm, plus the knock-on effect on the economic development of the region.

Contact with communities

In line with its philosophy of cooperation with communities that live in the areas directly affected by its projects, Acciona has maintained frequent contacts with regional stakeholders since the start of the project, informing them about the progress made and laying the groundwork for long-term cooperation. A number of cooperation agreements have been reached in this process of dialogue with different social organizations, the aim being to improve the quality of life of residents in aspects such as productive development, basic sanitation and street lighting, among other community promotion initiatives.

From the environmental point of view, after the wind farm enters service (planned for September 2019) it will avoid the emission to the atmosphere of around 632,000 tonnes of C02 per annum from coal-fired power plants, with a cleaning effect on the air equivalent to the presence of 31 million trees.

A growing presence in Chile

The start-up of San Gabriel will take Acciona’s renewables capacity in Chile to 474 MW, joining the Punta Palmeras (45 MW) wind farm in Coquimbo (grid connected in 2014) and the El Romero Solar photovoltaic plant (246 MWp) in Atacama, in service since November 2016. ACCIONA has other wind and photovoltaic projects in the pipeline at different stages of development.

Prior to the 2016 tender, the company was awarded capacity in the first auction for renewable and conventional energy generators organized by the CNE. In December 2014 it was allocated up to 600 GWh/year for the 2018-2032 period.

Additionally, the company has signed several PPA contracts with corporate clients in Chile. Two that stand out are the one signed with Google to cover the electricity consumption of its data center and other facilities in the country, and another with the distribution chain Falabella to supply around one hundred of its retail stores in Chile.

Source: Acciona Energía

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Research experts of the Biomass Department of CENER (National Renewable Energy Centre of Spain) have coordinated the project commissioned by the European Commission to gather comprehensive information on, and to provide systematic analysis of the latest available scientific research and the latest available scientific evidence on indirect land use change (ILUC) greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) associated with production of biofuels and bioliquids.

The European Commission, by its Directorate-General for Energy commissioned CENER the coordination of this study, which has been jointly elaborated with researchers of Wageningen Economic Research, Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency and Wageningen Environmental Research.

The study describes the selection and review of ILUC related literature, especially highlighting the development and progress in understanding and quantifying ILUC in the recent years. The main methods used to quantify ILUC are described, and the most relevant ILUC related studies, which provide detailed qualitative and quantitative results, are outlined. Besides, ILUC factors found in the literature are presented and related to the quantification methodology applied. The report also provides an in-depth analysis of key assumptions in ILUC research and related uncertainties. Finally, it also analyses the main mitigation options for ILUC, including low ILUC-risk biofuels.

Among the main conclusions of the study coordinated by CENER, it is underlined that ILUC factors identified in the literature vary significantly across biofuel pathways, studies, or even within studies depending on the hypothesis used. Besides, studies that have investigated parametric uncertainty conclude that this fact has a significant effect on the outcomes. As a consequence of all the uncertainties in the components of ILUC emissions, it is very difficult to narrow them down.

EC policies requiring the study

The EU mandatory sustainability criteria for biofuels and bioliquids do not allow the raw material for biofuel production to be obtained from land with high carbon stock or high biodiversity value. However, this does not guarantee that as a consequence of the demand of raw material for biofuels production, such land is not used for production of raw materials for other purposes. Therefore, if land for biofuels is taken from cropland formerly used for other purposes, or by conversion of grassland in arable land for biofuel production, the former agricultural production on this land has to be grown somewhere else. In such cases, if there is no regulation that this must happen sustainably, conversion of land may happen, which is not allowed to be used under the EU sustainability criteria for biofuels. This conversion may take place in other countries than where the biofuel is produced. This is called indirect land use change (ILUC).

According to Article 3 of the European Union’s Directive (EU) 2015/1513 of 9 September 2015, the European Commission has to provide information on, and analysis of the available and the best available scientific research results, scientific evidence regarding ILUC emissions associated to the production of biofuels, and in relation to all production pathways.

Besides, according to Article 23 of the revised European Union’s Directive 2009/28/EC (RES Directive), the Commission also has to provide the latest available information with regard to key assumptions influencing the results from modelling ILUC GHG emissions, as well as an assessment of whether the range of uncertainty identified in the analysis underlying the estimations of ILUC emissions can be narrowed down, and if the possible impact of the EU policies, such as environment, climate and agricultural policies, can be factored in. An assessment of a possibility of setting out criteria for the identification and certification of low ILUC-risk biofuels that are produced in accordance with the EU sustainability criteria is also required.

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In line with its strong commitment to tackling the effects of climate change, Iberdrola has decided to complete the process of phasing out all its coal-fired power generation capacity worldwide. The technology represents 1.8% of the group’s total installed capacity of 48,062 megawatts (MW) and 1.5% of its electricity production for the first nine months of the year (1,596 GWh out of 102,494 GWh).To this end, the company has filed a permit application with the Ministry of Energy, Tourism and Digital Strategy to close the coal-fired power plants in Lada (Asturias) and Velilla (Palencia). Both of the assets are situated in Spain and represent a combined capacity 874 MW. With this decision the company ratifies its commitment to reduce its CO2 emissions intensity by 50% in 2030 and become carbon neutral in 2050.

Iberdrola group operates 28,778 MW clean capacity through renewable energy generation sources, mainly onshore and offshore wind (15,902 MW) and hydroelectric power (12,756 MW).

Last week, Iberdrola, together with other leading Energy companies, called upon European policy makers to embrace higher and more ambitious binding renewable energy targets for 2030 by raising the share of renewables in the final energy demand on the continent from the current target of 27% to 35%.

Once the remaining coal-fired plants are closed the company’s emissions-free capacity will stand at 68%. This figure rises to 76% in Spain, where the security of supply will not be impacted by this initiative thanks to the 5,695 MW back-up capacity in combined gas cycles the company operates.

Closure of the plants will not impact the company’s strong commitment to job stability since all the affected employees (90 at Lada and 80 at Velilla) will either be relocated to other facilities or will be engaged in their respective decommissioning process which will last for four years after approval of the closure by the Ministry of Energy, with an investment of €35 million.

Since 2001, the company has phased out 7,500 MW of thermal power capacity (see chart below) worldwide. In 2013 and 2016, Cockenzie and Longannet, two large power plants in the United Kingdom with a combined capacity of 3,600 MW, were closed. Also, between 2001 and 2012 over 3,200 MW of fuel-oil-fired plants were decommissioned in Spain.

Thanks to the progressive decarbonisation of its electricity generation mix, over the past 15 years Iberdrola has become a reference point in the global fight against climate change, having invested €90 billion in the process.

Today, it has become a global leader in onshore wind while bringing down emissions to 70% below its European peers, representing an improvement of 75% since the year 2000.

Commitment to fighting climate change

In 2009, Iberdrola approved its Policy to Fight Climate Change undertaking, among other measures, to support an ambitious global emissions reduction target; to promote the development of efficient technologies to bring down greenhouse-gas emissions; to advocate for an integrated and fair global emissions market while fostering the efficient and responsible use of energy involving all company stakeholders.

Also, and in order to reduce emissions, it is essential for Iberdrola that a strong signal on CO2 prices is given to markets, affecting all sectors of the economy. In addition, the company understands that with the right climate policies the fight to mitigate emissions and adapt to global warming are opportunities for economic growth.

Lastly, the company has been working as a key partner with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and has an active presence at COP23 which takes place in Bonn until 17 November.

Source: Iberdrola

The private sector accounts for around half of Europe’s electricity consumption. Powering corporate consumers with renewable energy could deliver massive reductions in CO2 emissions, save businesses money and make it easier for people to invest in renewables.

Large energy consumers such as chemical and aluminium producers, ICT and food & drink companies gathered in Brussels last October, 11, with renewable energy producers to consider how to unlock this potential. The RE-Source 2017 event brought together industry leaders such as Google, Mars, IKEA and Alcoa with energy players EDF Energies Nouvelles, ENEL Green Power, Envision and Vestas with policy makers.

The volume of ’Corporate Renewable Power Purchase Agreements’ (PPAs) – which allow companies to purchase renewable energy directly from an energy generator – almost tripled in Europe in 2016, with over 1 GW of capacity contracted. Globally, more than 100 top companies have now committed to procure 100% renewable electricity via the RE100 initiative,together accounting for 150 TWh of yearly consumption.

Yet, in Europe, only a limited number of large corporates are involved in renewables sourcing and do so in only a handful of European countries, mainly Scandinavia and the UK.

Getting the EU’s Clean Energy Package right will be key to unlocking the massive growth potential of PPAs. Companies wanting zero-carbon power need to be able to trace the supply and prove that it’s renewable. They also need to value additionality criteria if they have been explicitly investing in new RES capacities, therefore contributing to the achievement of EU’s overall targets. To do this they need functioning Guarantees of Origin (GOs) that are effectively linked with RES producers and a system that values investments in additional renewable capacities. The European Commission’s proposal for a Renewable Energy Directive is insufficient in this regard, and this must be tackled by the European Parliament and Council in the next phase of the negotiations.

Furthermore, in many countries including Germany, it’s a grey area as to whether the law actually allows for PPAs. The new Renewables Directive would require governments to remove legal barriers to PPAs. A better legal framework would help PPAs spread into other markets, whilst more flexible contracts catering to the needs of SMEs would enable PPAs to flourish beyond the major corporates.

Giles Dickson, CEO of WindEurope, said in this morning’s welcome session: “Wind energy producers can supply cheap power today thanks to significant reductions in technology and operating costs in recent years. Renewable PPAs help companies source the affordable power they want and at fixed prices reducing their exposure to volatile fossil fuel costs. But there are still barriers to PPAs. The Clean Energy Package is an opportunity to remove these and ensure PPAs can really flourish”.

Dr James Watson, CEO of SolarPower Europe, said: “Corporates are increasingly looking to buy solar power as a cost-effective and competitive source of energy across Europe. We must act now to encourage corporates and solar companies to work together, to accelerate the European energy transition and facilitate the growth of European solar power.

Source: WindEurope

The buildings in which Europeans sleep, eat, shop, learn and work, house a great opportunity for energy saving and emissions reduction, particularly in the so-called technical systems: heating, DHW, cooling, ventilation and lighting. A recent study by energy consultancy Ecofys, sponsored by Danfoss, shows the energy saving that can be achieved by improving energy management in Europe’s buildings. This hitherto under-exploited potential is calculated to save €67bn on the annual energy bill of European citizens by 2030, while reducing CO2 emissions by 156 Mt. Documents have been published as part of the study that focus on different types of buildings. This article sets out the main conclusions of the study in the case of supermarkets, along with some of the more recent success stories from Danfoss in this sector on the Iberian Peninsula.

Buildings allocated to supermarkets in Europe occupy an approximate surface area of 115 million square metres. Part of the study included an assessment of the energy saving potential of a sample supermarket with a surface area of 1,025 m2 and a total energy consumption of 181 kWh/m2a. This sample building is equipped with a gas condensing boiler for heating (with energy recovery for the refrigeration system); mechanical ventilation systems with no heat recovery; a refrigeration and air conditioning system by means of compression chillers; and a direct and indirect lighting system via fluorescent tubes.


Improvements to the technical systems in this sample supermarket reveal the possibility of achieving a 45% saving in energy, which translates into just over 8,000 €/year, with an investment of some €36,000 that would be amortised in around 4.5 years. Read more…

Article published in: FuturENERGY July-August 2017

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Eurostat estimates that in 2016, CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion decreased by 0.4% in the EU, compared with the previous year. CO2 emissions are a major contributor to global warming and account for around 80% of all EU greenhouse gas emissions. They are influenced by factors such as climate conditions, economic growth, population size, transport and industrial activities.

Various EU energy efficiency initiatives aim to reduce CO2 emissions and other greenhouse gases. It should be noted that imports and exports of energy products affect CO2 emissions in the country where the fossil fuels are burned. For example if coal is imported, this leads to an increase in emissions; while if electricity is imported, it has no direct effect on emissions in the importing country, as these are accounted for in the exporting country where the electricity is produced.


Largest falls: Malta and Bulgaria; highest increases: Finland and Cyprus

According to Eurostat estimates, CO2 emissions rose in 2016 in most of the EU Member States, with the highest increases being recorded in Finland (+8.5%), followed by Cyprus (+7.0%), Slovenia (+5.8%) and Denmark (+5.7%). Decreases were registered in 11 Member States, notably Malta (-18.2%), Bulgaria (-7.0%), Portugal (-5.7%) and the UK (-4.8%).

Spain: increased emissions for the third year running

Energy-related CO2 emissions in Spain once again increased in 2016, up 1.6% on 2015 figures, according to data from the EU’s statistical office. This made 2016 the third year running to show an increase in such emissions (0.4% and 3.2% respectively in 2014 and 2015). The only positive aspect to highlight for last year is that the increase was much less than in 2015.

In line with data published by Eurostat, overall Spain represents 7.7% of energy-related CO2 emissions in the EU. Germany leads the field with over 22% of the European total, followed by the UK, Italy, Poland, France and Spain.

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Fuente/Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Monthly Energy Review

The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s new Today in Energy brief looks at what’s behind the decline is U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions during 2016. U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions in 2016 totaled 5,170 million metric tons (MMmt), 1.7% below their 2015 levels, after dropping 2.7% between 2014 and 2015. These recent decreases are consistent with a decade-long trend, with energy-related CO2 emissions 14% below the 2005 level in 2016.

Regarding energy use, both oil and natural gas consumption were higher in 2016 than in 2015, while coal consumption was significantly lower. Consistent with changes in fuel consumption, energy-related CO2 emissions in 2016 from petroleum and natural gas increased 1.1% and 0.9%, respectively, while coal-related emissions decreased 8.6%.

There are several ways to assess CO2 emissions trends within the context of measures of economic activity. Carbon intensity is a measure that relates CO2 emissions to economic output. Early estimates indicate that gross domestic product (GDP) grew at a rate of 1.6% in 2016, down from 2.6% in 2015. Taken together with a 1.7% decline in energy-related CO2, the 1.6% estimate of economic growth implies a 3.3% decline in the carbon intensity of the U.S. economy. In 2015, carbon intensity of the economy had decreased by 5.3%.

The U.S. transportation sector was the only consumption sector where CO2 emissions increased in 2016. CO2 emissions from the transportation sector increased by 1.9%, largely reflecting emissions from motor gasoline, which increased 1.8% in 2016. Emissions from the transportation sector surpassed those from the power sector during 2016—a trend that persists through at least 2040 in the Reference case projections in EIA’s 2017 Annual Energy Outlook.

CO2 emissions from the electric power sector fell by 4.9% in 2016. A significant reduction in coal use for electricity generation was offset by increased generation from natural gas and renewable sources. Renewables do not emit CO2, and a shift towards natural gas from coal lowers CO2 because natural gas has lower emissions per unit of energy than coal and because natural gas generators typically use less energy than coal plants to generate each kWh of electricity. Overall, the data indicate about a 5% decline in the carbon intensity of the power sector, a rate that was also realized in 2015. Since 1973, no two consecutive years have seen a decline of this magnitude, and only one other year (2009) has seen a similar decline.

Weather also affected the level of energy use and CO2 emissions in 2016. Because more energy is used for heating than for cooling, warm years can translate to less energy consumption if increased cooling needs during warm summers are less than the reduced heating needs during warm winters. Based on preliminary data, 2016 is expected to have had 10% fewer heating degree days (indicating lower heating demand) and 13% more cooling degree days (indicating more cooling demand) than normal. Heating degree days in 2016 were the second fewest of any year since at least 1949, consistent with relatively warmer winter months.

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Monthly Energy Review

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