Energy & Technology

Using Captured Carbon Dioxide for Enhanced Oil Recovery

Promoted in Energy Efficiency section: 
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2-4 p.m.Russell Senate Office BuildingRoom SR-385

An Energy, Economic and Environmental Solution for Our Nation:
Using Captured Carbon Dioxide for Enhanced Oil Recovery

Thursday, June 26, 2014
2-4 p.m.

Russell Senate Office Building
Room SR-385
2 Constitution Avenue, NE
Washington, D.C., 20002

Carbon dioxide enhanced oil recovery (CO2-EOR) is a decades-old, proven commercial practice that involves injecting CO2 into already developed oil fields to coax additional production. Increasing the supply of CO2 captured from power plants and industrial sources for use in CO2-EOR has the potential to increase American oil production by tens of billions of barrels, while safely storing billions of tons of CO2 underground. The event will focus on CO2-EOR’s benefits for domestic energy production, the economy, and the environment.

Welcome

BRAD CRABTREE
Vice President, Fossil Energy, Great Plains Institute
 

Introductory Remarks

The Honorable RICHARD GEPHARDT
Former Majority Leader, U.S. House of Representatives (D-MO)

The Honorable TIM HUTCHINSON
Former U.S. Senator (R-AR)


Panel Discussion

THOMAS ALTMEYER
Vice President, Government Affairs, Arch Coal, Inc.

HUNTER JOHNSTON
Counsel, Leucadia Energy

BRAD MARKELL
Executive Director, Industrial Union Council, AFL-CIO

JOHN STEELMAN
Climate Program Manager, Natural Resources Defense Council


Closing Remarks

PATRICK FALWELL

Solutions Fellow, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions


The National Enhanced Oil Recovery Initiative (NEORI) brings together industry, labor and environmental advocates, and state officials to foster increased domestic oil production through the capture, use and storage of CO2 from power plants and industrial facilities.  NEORI is convened by the Center for Energy and Climate Solutions (C2ES) and Great Plains Institute (GPI).

Agriculture Overview

 

Related Resources:

Agricultural Emissions in the United States

The agricultural sector affects the climate system in four distinct, but interrelated, ways outlined below and explored further in the subsequent sections of this overview.

  • Greenhouse gas emissions associated with agriculture - Agriculture is directly responsible for 7 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, largely from soil management (fertilizer use) and livestock; the agricultural sector is also an end user for electricity and transportation fuels.
  • Agriculture and carbon storage - Agriculture affects the global carbon cycle because agricultural practices and land use alter the amount of carbon stored in plant matter and soil, and consequently, the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere.
  • Energy and product substitution from agriculture - Biomass from the agricultural sector can be used to displace fossil fuels for energy purposes and to make a variety of bio-based products.
  • Agriculture and the climate system: beyond greenhouse gases - Agriculture also interacts with the climate system in an important way that is not related to greenhouse gas emissions or storage by changing the amount of heat absorbed or reflected by the earth’s surface.

Although this overview does not aim to address the wide range of observed and projected impacts of climate change on agriculture, it is important to note that agriculture will be affected in a variety of ways as temperatures rise and precipitation patterns change (see Climate Change 101: Science and Impacts). The impacts of climate change on agriculture will vary by crop, across regions, and through time.[1] Since the linkages between climate and agriculture are dynamic, the impacts of the climate on agriculture will in turn alter the way agriculture affects the climate.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Associated with Agriculture in the United States

Direct greenhouse gas emissions from the U.S. agricultural sector account for 7 percent of total U.S. emissions (see Figure 1). Direct emissions from the U.S. agricultural sector account for 7 percent of total U.S. emissions (see Figure 1). Direct emissions from agriculture include methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions from a relatively small number of sources (see Figure 2). Distributing emissions from electricity and transportation among end-use sectors modestly increases the amount of greenhouse gas emissions attributable to the agricultural sector to roughly 7 percent of total U.S. 

Figure 1: U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions by Economic Sector (2010)


Source: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2010, Table ES-7, 2012. http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/usinventoryreport.html

Direct greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture include methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions from a relatively small number of sources (see Figure 2). Distributing emissions from electricity and transportation among end-use sectors modestly increases the amount of greenhouse gas emissions attributable to the agricultural sector to roughly 7 percent of total U.S. emissions.[2]

Agricultural soil management, including the application of nitrogen-based fertilizers, accounts for more than 40 percent of all agricultural emissions. Enteric fermentation, a normal digestive process in animals that produces methane, is the second largest source (nearly 30 percent) of agricultural emissions; beef and dairy cattle account for nearly 95 percent of emissions from enteric fermentation. Livestock manure management accounts for an additional 14 percent of emissions. Other emissions sources, including rice cultivation and the field burning of agricultural residues, account for 6 percent of non-energy related direct greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture.[3]

Energy use is the fourth largest source of emissions, accounting for 10 percent of total agricultural emissions (see Figure 2).  Both direct energy use in support of farming activities, such as the electricity used to power irrigation pumps and the liquid fuels for vehicles used in the fields, and indirect energy use, which includes the emissions from the production of commercial fertilizers and other energy-intensive farm inputs, produce emissions.

Figure 2: Emissions from Agriculture by Source (2010)[4]

Source: EPA, Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2010, Table 2-12, 2012. http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/usinventoryreport.html

Agriculture and Carbon Storage

Plants, including agricultural crops, play an integral role in the global carbon cycle. The carbon cycle consists of four major stocks of carbon: the atmosphere, the oceans, the terrestrial biosphere (vegetation and soils), and sediments and rocks. Carbon moves from one stock to another at different rates through a variety of pathways. Plants, for example, convert atmospheric CO2 into a usable form of chemical energy, sugar, through photosynthesis. As the plants use the sugar’s energy, some of the carbon is released back into the atmosphere as CO2, and the rest of the carbon is used by the plant to grow new biomass. The carbon embodied by terrestrial plants can then replenish the carbon in soil, for example, through the decomposition of fallen leaves.[5]

The agricultural sector affects carbon storage in two main ways:

  • Land use conversion: Converting land from one use to another can result in significant changes to the amount of stored carbon; forests and wetlands generally store more carbon than grasslands, which in turn tend to store more carbon than croplands.
  • Land management practices: A variety of land management practices help maintain and increase the amount of stored carbon on agricultural lands. These practices include agroforestry, improved cropping systems, improved nutrient and water management, conservation tillage, water management, and maintenance of perennial crops.[6]

The U.S. Department of Agriculture classifies 62 percent of land in the contiguous 48 states as agricultural and 52 percent of land in all 50 states (see Figure 3).

Figure 3: Land Use in the Contiguous 48 States (2011)

Source: USDA Economic Research Service. Major Land Uses in the Continguous United States, 2007 (2011) http://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/major-land-uses.aspx#25988 Note: Special use is defined as rural transportation, rural parks and wildlife, defense and industrial, plus miscellaneous farm and other special uses.  Other land is unclassified uses such as marshes, swamps, bare rock, deserts, tundra and other uses not estimated, classified, or inventoried.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has estimated the annual carbon fluxes associated with land use, land-use change, and forestry for the contiguous 48 states. Land-use practices and land-use change can result in either a net release of carbon stored in the plants and soil (making the system a carbon source) or a net uptake of carbon by the plants and soil (making the system a carbon sink).

For agricultural lands, specifically croplands and grasslands, the annual carbon flux values include changes to the amount of carbon stored in soils due to land management and changes in land use, as well as the CO2 emissions resulting from the application of lime and urea fertilizer. Collectively, agricultural lands in the United States act as a small carbon sink, storing more carbon than they release (see Figure 4). For comparison, forests act as a much larger carbon sink in the United States, storing about 20 times more carbon than the total carbon sink provided by all agricultural lands.[7]

Figure 4: Changes in Carbon Storage of Agricultural Land in 2010

Source: EPA, Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2009, Table 7-1, 2011. http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/usinventoryreport.html

Based on the emissions measured by the EPA, agricultural land use and land-use change act as a small net sink for greenhouse gas emissions. However, when greenhouse gas emissions (Figure 2) and carbon storage (Figure 4) are totaled, the sector is a net source of greenhouse gas emissions on a CO2-equivalent basis.[8]

Energy and Product Substitution from Agriculture

The agricultural sector is one source of biomass for bio-based products and energy. Bio-based products include a broad range of commercial and industrial items, excluding food and feed, that range from plastics to bedding made completely or in large part from agricultural and forestry products.[9] Agricultural biomass, which can include waste materials or dedicated energy crops, can also be used to produce electricity, heat, and liquid fuels, broadly referred to as bioenergy.[10]

Substituting biomass for fossil fuels in energy production has the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The combustion of fossil fuels adds to the atmosphere CO2 that has been stored in deep rock formations for millions of years. The combustion of biomass returns the atmospheric CO2 taken up through photosynthesis and converted into new plant material, making bio-based fuels theoretically carbon neutral. However, the full climate impact of bioenergy requires a broader assessment that accounts for the life-cycle emissions associated with the biomass, including land management practices, land use change, conversion processes and associated energy use, and transportation.[11]

In 2011, biomass (including biofuels, biomass from wood and municipal solid waste from biogenic sources, landfill gas, sludge waste, agricultural byproducts and other biomass) provided 4.5 percent of total energy consumed in the United States, or nearly half of all renewable energy (see Figure 5). For more information on biofuels, see Climate TechBook: Biofuels Overview.

Figure 5: U.S. Energy Consumption by Energy Source with Biomass Breakdown, 2011

Source: Energy Information Administration (EIA), Annual Energy Review, Energy Consumption by Energy Sector, (Topic 2.1b – f), Renewable Energy (Topic 10.1). September 2012. http://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/annual/index.cfm

Agriculture and the Climate System: Beyond Greenhouse Gases

The interface between terrestrial ecosystems and the climate system encompasses a wide range of complex interactions that includes, but is not limited to, greenhouse gas emissions and carbon storage. Agriculture also affects the amount of solar energy that the land surface absorbs or reflects. The fraction of solar energy reflected by a surface is known as the albedo; bright surfaces like ice and snow that reflect a lot of solar energy have a high albedo, while dark surfaces, like the ocean, have a low albedo and tend to absorb greater amounts of solar energy.

Albedo is important to the climate system because absorbed sunlight warms the surface and is released back into the atmosphere as heat.[12] Darker vegetation and exposed soils tend to absorb more sunlight and, therefore, release more heat into the atmosphere, producing a local warming effect. This warming can play an important role in the overall climate system.[13]

Global Context

Agricultural land, which includes cropland, managed grassland, and permanent crops, occupies about 40-50 percent of the world’s total land surface. In 2005, non-energy direct greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture accounted for 10-12 percent of total global greenhouse gas emissions from human-made sources. Agriculture accounts for 60 percent of global N2O emissions and 50 percent of CH4 emissions. A combination of population growth and changing diets has led to increased emissions of these gases from the agricultural sector since at least 1990.[14] This increase can be attributed to the increased use of nitrogen-based fertilizers and the increased number of livestock being raised, especially cattle.[15]

Population growth, changing diets, and changing standards of living will continue to affect the amount and type of food demanded. Recent years have also seen greater interest in and demand for dedicated energy crops. These trends have several possible implications on greenhouse gas emissions:

  • Increasing land use change to increase the amount of cropland available for food or energy crops will affect carbon storage. The effect of land use change on carbon change will depend on a variety of factors, including previous land use, land management practices, and type of crops grown. An expansion of croplands could result in an overall loss of plant and soil carbon.
  • Increasing crop yields will likely require more inputs, such as water and fertilizer, for a given a unit of land. Increasing agricultural inputs will result in higher emissions per unit of agricultural output because more energy will be required to produce the inputs and direct emissions from fertilizer use will increase.
  • Rising demand for meat and dairy products will increase methane emissions from enteric fermentation and manure production. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projects that methane emissions from livestock could increase 60 percent by 2030, depending on whether greenhouse gas-mitigating feeding practices and manure management are used.[16] Larger livestock populations could also result in land use change to create grazing lands.

Growing interest in the lifecycle carbon emissions of food may also change patterns of food production and consumption. Lifecycle emissions  arise from agricultural inputs (including water and fertilizer), equipment for cultivating and harvesting crops, and transportation to consumers. Possible outcomes of using lifecycle analysis include more localized production—producing food close to its point of consumption—and using organic farming methods that minimize fertilizer use. Particularly in today’s globalized food market, accounting for life cycle emissions will be crucial in reducing greenhouse gas emissions associated with agriculture and livestock.

Agriculture Sector Mitigation Opportunities

The agricultural sector can contribute to climate change mitigation in a variety of ways. Mitigation efforts can reduce the direct greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, increase carbon storage, substitute bio-based products and feedstocks for fossil fuels, and reduce the amount of heat absorbed by the earth’s surface. Some of these mitigation opportunities provide relatively straightforward solutions, but others face a variety of challenges, including the accurate measurement of greenhouse gas fluxes.

Mitigation Opportunities

Mitigation opportunities can be identified from each of the four types of interactions that agriculture has with the climate system. A wide range of options exist, but with different levels of technical feasibility, cost-effectiveness, and measurement certainty. A number of the mitigation options for the agricultural sector, including soil management practices, also bring a variety of co-benefits, such as improved water quality and reduced erosion. To date, a number of policies thought to have climate benefits have been pursued in order to achieve one or more of these co-benefits.

Reduce greenhouse gas emissions

  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions from energy use: Energy-related greenhouse gas emissions from the agricultural sector can be reduced in a number of ways, including the use of more fuel-efficient machinery and the installation of on-site renewable energy systems for electricity.
  • More efficient fertilizer use: Increasing the efficiency of nitrogen use reduces the need for additional fertilizer inputs. This can be achieved by fertilizing during the most appropriate period for plant uptake, fertilizing below the soil surface, and balancing nitrogen fertilizers with other nutrients that can stimulate more efficient uptake. These measures can reduce N2O emissions.
  • Improved manure management: When manure is held in an oxygen-poor (anaerobic) environment—such as a holding tank—for an extended period of time, bacteria decompose this material and release methane as a byproduct. Reducing the moisture content and the amount of storage time are two options for reducing methane emissions from manure.
  • Improved animal feed management : Facilitating the digestive process for livestock—such as using easy-to-digest feed—can reduce methane emissions from enteric fermentation.
  • Improved rice cultivation practices: When rice paddies are flooded, the oxygen-poor (anaerobic) environment allows certain bacteria to create methane through a process called methanogenesis. Periodically draining rice paddies can inhibit this process by aerating the soil.

Increase vegetation and soil carbon stocks

  • Land-use changes to increase soil carbon: Reforestation and afforestation initiatives can increase the amount of biomass in a given area of land, thereby sequestering carbon in plant material.
  • Land management practices that increase soil carbon: A variety of land management practices can be implemented to increase soil carbon. These include the use of high-residue crops, such as sorghum, that produce a large amount of plant matter left in the field after harvest; the reduction or elimination of fallow periods between crops; the efficient use of manures, nitrogen fertilizers, and irrigation; and the use of low- or no-till practices. Importantly, local conditions will determine the best practices for a given location, and all of these practices do not increase carbon storage in all locations.

Substitute biomass feedstocks and products for fossil fuels

The use of bio-based products as fuels and product substitutes has the potential to reduce fossil fuel combustion and associated greenhouse gas emissions. However, careful life-cycle analysis is necessary to ensure that the substitution yields a net reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Non-greenhouse gas related climate interactions

Less attention has been given to mitigation options that do not affect greenhouse gas emissions, but a 2009 study did suggest that crops could be bred or genetically engineered to be more reflective to help reduce warming by reflecting more solar energy from the land surface.[17]

Uncertainty and Mitigation Potential

Key aspects of the agricultural sector’s climate interactions involve complex biological processes. These processes continue to be studied by scientists to fill gaps in our understanding of how these processes work and to reduce the uncertainty associated with current data on greenhouse gas fluxes from agricultural systems. Although the agricultural sector is sometimes identified as having a potentially large role in mitigating climate change, especially by increasing carbon storage in developing countries,[18] further scientific advances will be necessary for the agricultural sector to achieve its full mitigation potential.

Estimates of agriculture’s mitigation potential in the United States vary for different practices. For example, emissions of N2O could be reduced by 30 to 40 percent with improved fertilization practices. Methane (CH4) emissions could be reduced by 20 to 40 percent by improving livestock and methane management. Croplands could store up to 83 MMT of carbon per year, equivalent to about 1 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, through widespread adoption of best management practices.[19]

C2ES Work in Agricultural Sector

Our work at C2ES covers a wide variety of agriculture-related topics, including climate policy and how it interacts with the sector, low-carbon technology status and outlook, and agricultural practice innovation. We track and inform policymaking at the state, federal, and regional levels, collaborate on papers and briefs, blog about current issues, and educate policymakers and others with up-to-date online resources about important developments in the sector and those relevant to the sector.

Tracking policy - We track policy progress at the state, federal, and international level. Our state maps provide information about which states have implemented policies that promote the use of bio-based products and feedstocks as substitutes for fossil fuels.  We also track and analyze policy at the national level, including what is happening in Congressand the Executive Branch.

Research - We produce research, including reports, white papers, and briefs, on climate and clean energy issues.

Climate Compass Blog - Our blog includes posts about current issues related to agriculture, and you can view relevant posts here.

Climate Techbook - The agriculture section of the Climate Techbook provides an overview of the sector as well as briefs describing technologies and practices related to agriculture and GHG emissions. Below is a list of the Techbook factsheets that pertain to agriculture.

Agriculture OverviewBiopower 
Advanced BiohydrocarbonsBiosequestration
Anaerobic DigestersCellulosic Ethanol
BiodieselEthanol
Biofuels 

Recommended Resources

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

U.S. Global Change Research Program

U.S. Climate Change Science Program

U.S. Department of Agriculture

U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Environmental Defense Fund (EDF)

Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)

Resources for the Future (RFF)

Related Business Environmental Leadership Council (BELC) Companies

AlcoaExelon
BPJohnson Controls
DTE EnergyPG&E Corporation
Duke EnergyShell
DuPontWeyerhauser
Entergy 
  
  
  

 



[1] For more information, see Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). “Food, fibre and forest products.” In Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007. http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/wg2/ar4-wg2-chapter5.pdf

[2] To calculate this value, two datasets are used. Emissions from energy use come from: U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), U.S. Agriculture and Forestry Greenhouse Gas Inventory: 1990-2008, 2011. http://www.usda.gov/oce/climate_change/AFGGInventory1990_2008.htm. Emissions from non-energy use come from: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2009, 2011. http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/usinventoryreport.html.

[3] EPA, Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2007, 2009. http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/usinventoryreport.html.

[4] One million metric ton is equal to one teragram. For reference, one million metric ton of CO2e is equal to 280,000 new cars each being driven 12,500 miles or 90 minutes of U.S. energy consumption or 1 day of U.S. energy emissions from lighting buildings, see U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). 2008 Buildings Energy Data Book. Prepared for U.S. Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy by D&R International, Ltd. Silver Spring, MD, 2008. http://buildingsdatabook.eren.doe.gov/.

[5] Chapin, F. S., P.A. Matson, H. A. Mooney. Principles of Terrestrial Ecosystem Ecology. New York: Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2002.

[6] Richards, K. R., R. N. Sampson, and S. Brown. Agricultural & Forestlands: U.S. Carbon Policy Strategies. Prepared for the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, 2006. /global-warming-in-depth/all_reports/ag_forestlands

[7] EPA, Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2009, 2011. http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/usinventoryreport.html.

[8] The emissions of a gas, by weight, multiplied by its "global warming potential." Global warming potential is a system of multipliers devised to enable warming effects of different gases to be compared. The cumulative warming effect, over a specified time period, of an emission of a mass unit of CO2 is assigned the value of 1. Effects of emissions of a mass unit of non-CO2 greenhouse gases are estimated as multiples. For example, over the next 100 years, a gram of methane (CH4) in the atmosphere is currently estimated as having 23 times the warming effect as a gram of carbon dioxide; methane's 100-year GWP is thus 23. Estimates of GWP vary depending on the time-scale considered (e.g., 20-, 50-, or 100-year GWP) because the effects of some greenhouse gases are more persistent than others.

[9] Department of Agriculture. Final Rule. “Designation of Biobased Items for Federal Procurement,” Federal Register 71, no. 51 (16 March 2006): 13686. http://www.epa.gov/EPAFR-CONTENTS/2006/March/Day-16/contents.htm

[10] DOE, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. “Biomass FAQs.” http://www1.eere.energy.gov/biomass/printable_versions/biomass_basics_fa.... Updated 16 January 2009.

[11] Paustian, K., J. M. Antle, J. Sheehan, and E. A. Paul. Agriculture’s Role in Greenhouse Gas Mitigation. Prepared for the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, 2006. /global-warming-in-depth/all_reports/agriculture_s_role_mitigation

[12] Chapin et al. 2002.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). “Agriculture.” In Climate Change 2007: Mitigation. Contribution of Working Group III to the Fourth Assessment Report. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, 2007. http://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/ar4-wg3.htm.

[15] IPCC 2007.

[16] IPCC 2007.

[17] Ridgwell, A., J. S. Singarayer, A. M. Hetherington, and P. J. Valdes. “Tackling Regional Climate Change by Leaf Albedo Bio-Geoengineering” Current Biology 19 (2). (2009).

[18] IPCC 2007.

[19] Paustian et al. 2006.

 

 

 

A snapshot of the different ways agriculture interacts with the climate system
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A snapshot of the different ways agriculture interacts with the climate system

Residential & Commercial Overview

Related Resources

Residential and Commercial Emissions in the United States

Greenhouse gas emissions data can be reported either by economic sector, which includes electric power generation as a separate sector, or by end-use sector, which distributes the emissions from electricity generation across the economic sectors where the electricity is used. The residential and commercial sectors are large consumers of electricity, so it is appropriate to address both emissions from direct sources and electricity end-use for these sectors.

Direct emissions

Direct emissions from the residential and commercial sectors respectively account for 5.6 and 5.4 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions in the United States (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions by Economic Sector (2010)


Source: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2010, Table ES-7, 2012. http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/usinventoryreport.html

Ninety-three percent of the residential sector’s direct greenhouse gas emissions come from the combustion of fossil fuels, primarily for heating and cooking. Less than 7 percent of direct emissions come from the substitution of ozone depleting substances and other minor sources.[1] In the commercial sector, nearly 60 percent of direct emissions come from on-site fossil fuel combustion. Other sources of direct commercial emissions include landfills, wastewater treatment, the substitution of ozone depleting substances, and other minor sources (see Figure 2).[2]

Figure 2: Direct Emissions of Greenhouse Gases in the U.S. Commercial Sector (2010)


Source: EPA, Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2010, Table 2-12, 2012. http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/usinventoryreport.html

End-use emissions

U.S. electricity sales are split among the residential, commercial, and industrial sectors, with the residential and commercial sectors accounting for 39 and 35 percent of sales, respectively.(see Figure 3).

Figure 3: Retail Sales of Electricity to Ultimate Customers, Total by End-Use Sector(2010)

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), Electric Power Monthly, Table 5.1, September 2012. http://www.eia.gov/electricity/monthly/epm_table_grapher.cfm?t=epmt_5_01

When emissions from electricity generation are attributed to end-use sectors, the residential and commercial sectors are responsible for 18 and 17 percent of total U.S. emissions, respectively (see Figure 4). Electricity-related geenhouse gas emissions account for 70 percent of total residential emissions and 67 percent of total commercial emissions.

Figure 4: Direct and Electricity-Related Greenhouse Gas Emissions by End-Use Sector (2010)


Source: EPA, Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2010, Table 2-14, 2012. http://epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/usinventoryreport.html

Buildings: Key Drivers of Residential and Commercial Emissions

Emissions from the residential and commercial sectors, including both direct emissions and end-use electricity consumption, can largely be traced to energy use in buildings. Diverse factors determine how much energy buildings consume; these include the size of the building, the design and materials used, and the kinds of lighting and appliances installed.

Building Trends for Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Size, and Energy Use Intensity

Total greenhouse gas emissions, including both direct and end-use emissions, from residential and commercial buildings in the United States accounted for about 40 percent of total U.S. carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and 7 percent of global CO2 emissions in 2010.[3] Greenhouse gas emissions attributable to buildings have been steadily increasing; in recent decades, emissions from the on-site combustion of fossil fuels have remained relatively steady while electricity consumption has increased (see Figure 5).

Figure 5: CO2 Emissions for U.S. Residential and Commercial Buildings[4]


Source: DOE, 2011 Buildings Energy Data Book, Section 1.4.1, March 2012. http://buildingsdatabook.eren.doe.gov/.

Greenhouse gas emissions from buildings have increased as building size has increased. In the residential sector, the number of homes and the size of these homes have been increasing over time.[5] As homes grow larger, more energy is generally needed for heating, cooling, and lighting. Over time, homes also have added more appliances and consumer electronics.

Even as residential energy use has increased overall, the amount of energy used per square foot of residential buildings, a measure of energy intensity, has decreased, due to the increased efficiency of consumer appliances and recent regional building trends, such as improved residential building energy codes.[6] (see Figure 6) Energy intensity indicators are used to compare energy use in buildings through time. These indicators are used to examine energy-use trends in the different types of buildings in the residential and commercial sectors. They show how the amount of energy used per unit of output or activity has changed over time. Using less energy per unit of output reduces energy intensity; using more energy per unit increases the energy intensity. A weather factor is used to take into account the impacts of annual weather variation on energy consumption.[7]

Figure 6: Residential Energy Use, Energy Use Intensity, and Energy Use Factors

Description: http://www.c2es.org/docUploads/figure6_4.png

Source: DOE, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), “Trend Data: Residential Buildings Sector,” updated 14 May 2008. Note: The indicators on this chart are based on an Energy Use Index that is calibrated to 1985 levels.

In the commercial sector, both energy use and energy intensity have generally increased in recent decades. The general rise in energy intensity since 1985 has shown, however, a modest decline in recent years (see Figure 7). Commercial buildings have shown steady growth in size in recent years, as reflected by the increase in average floor space through time.

Figure 7: Commercial Energy Use, Energy Use Intensity, and Energy Use Factors

Description: http://www.c2es.org/docUploads/figure7_3.png

Source: DOE, EERE, “Trend Data: Commercial Buildings Sector,” updated 14 May 2008. Note: The indicators on this chart are based on an Energy Use Index that is calibrated to 1985 levels.

Energy End Use in Buildings

In the residential sector, space heating and cooling accounts for 43 percent of total primary energy use. Therefore, total energy demand from this sector is fairly sensitive to weather and varies considerably by region in a single year and over time in a given location. Other significant end uses of energy in the residential sector include water heating, lighting, refrigeration, electronics, wet cleaning and cooking (see Figure 8).

Figure 8: Residential Buildings Primary Energy End Use Splits (2010)


Source: DOE, 2011 Buildings Energy Data Book, Section 2.1.5, March 2012. http://buildingsdatabook.eren.doe.gov/.
 

In the commercial sector, space heating, ventilation and space cooling accounts for 43 percent of total primary energy use and lighting accounts for one-fifth. Refrigeration, water heating, electronics, computers, and cooking also use significant quantities of energy in the commercial sector (see Figure 9). The commercial sector encompasses a variety of different building types, including schools, restaurants, hotels, office buildings, banks, and stadiums. Different building types have very different energy needs and energy intensities.

Figure 9: Commercial Buildings Primary Energy End Use Splits (2010)


Source: DOE, 2011 Buildings Energy Data Book, Section 3.1.4, March 2012. http://buildingsdatabook.eren.doe.gov/.
 

For more information on buildings, see Climate TechBook: Buildings Overview.

Global Context

On a global scale, energy use and greenhouse gas emissions data for the residential and commercial sectors can be difficult to quantify. Globally, the quantity of energy use attributed to buildings, as a proxy for the residential and commercial sectors, varies by country and climate. Energy consumption levels and primary fuel types of buildings in a specific country depend on economic and social indicators, such as national income and level of urbanization. Some key trends observed include:

  • In general, developed countries consume more energy per capita than developing countries; developed countries tend to have bigger building sizes for comparable building functions, and they tend to use more appliances and other energy-using equipment than developing countries.
  • Urban areas in developed countries use less energy per capita than rural areas; this is because of , district heating in higher-density areas, decreased transportation-related energy consumption, and other factors. However, the opposite effect can be seen in many developing countries where energy useis higher in cities than in rural areas because residents often have higher incomes and greater access to energy services.[8]
  • In some countries, grid-connected power remains unavailable or unaffordable for households. In these areas, which include large portions of sub-Saharan Africa, as well as parts of India and China, biomass and coal are often the primary fuels for heating and cooking.[9] This has important implications both for global greenhouse gas emissions and development goals, including:
    • Global data on GHG emissions often do not account for emissions from biomass that is collected and burned locally. Household-level combustion of biomass and coal are estimated to account for about 10 percent of global energy use and 13 percent of direct carbon emissions.[10]
    • The use of woody biomass, unless sustainably managed, can lead to widespread deforestation. Forests play important roles as local resources and as global carbon sinks.
    • Indoor combustion of biomass and coal is a significant health concern; high rates of respiratory illness have been documented in areas that predominantly use biomass or coal for heating and cooking. Reducing GHG emissions through appropriate technology advances, energy efficiency improvements, and the use of alternative fuels will have important health co-benefits.
  • Commercial energy intensity in developed countries, the energy use per dollar of income as measured by GDP, is currently almost twice that of developing countries. Commercial buildings’ energy consumption is projected to be the fastest-growing end-use sector for energy in developing countries.[11] Economic growth in developing countries will likely lead to increased global demand for energy, and, without energy efficient products and practices, could lead to substantially higher global energy consumption and GHG emissions.

Residential and Commercial Sector Mitigation Opportunities

Reducing emissions from the residential and commercial sectors can be done in a variety of ways and on a number of scales:

  • Addressing landfills

Landfill waste can be reduced (thereby lowering the volume of decomposing material that produces methane, a powerful greenhouse gas) or harnessed as an energy source. Methane-capture systems in landfills prevent greenhouse gases from being released into the atmosphere.

  • Reducing embodied energy in building materials

Embodied energy refers to the energy used to extract, manufacture, transport, install, and dispose of building materials. Choosing low carbon materials—such as local materials, materials that sequester carbon, and products manufactured at efficient industrial facilities reduces emissions.

  • Improving building design and construction

Building designs and construction techniques can maximize the use of natural light and ventilation, which minimizes the need for artificial light and HVAC equipment. Using building shading techniques, installing windows to minimize or maximize solar intake (depending on the region), and properly insulating against unwanted air flow between indoor and outdoor spaces improve energy use. Many other options are available and “green” builders are continually creating innovative ways to maximize efficiency in building spaces.

  • Increasing end-use energy efficiency

Using efficient appliances can minimize energy consumption and concomitant GHG emissions from electricity and direct fossil fuel combustion.

  • Adopting new energy-use habits

Following conservation guidelines and making personal choices to reduce the use of appliances, artificial lighting, and HVAC equipment (for example, by shutting them off when they are not in use) will reduce energy use. Also, opting for smaller residential and commercial spaces can reduce the energy needed for building construction and operation.

C2ES Work in the Residential & Commercial Sector

Our work at C2ES focuses on all types of commercial and residential building topics, including policy and low-carbon building technologies. We track state and federal building and efficiency policies, blog about building-related energy issues, and create and maintain a current online resource of building technologies.

Tracking Policy – Our state maps provide useful overviews of state policies supporting energy-related building codes and standards, such as Commercial Building Energy Codes. We also track and analyze policy at the national level, including what is happening in Congress and the Executive Branch.

Research – We produce research, including reports, white papers, and briefs, on climate and clean energy issues.

Climate Compass Blog – On our blog we inlclude posts related to the residential and commercial sectors. See our blog posts.

Climate Techbook – The Residential & Commercial section of the Climate Techbook provides an overview of these sectors and decriptions of technologies related to improving building energy efficiency. Below is a list of all the buildings-related Techbook factsheets.

Residential & Commercial OverviewNatural Gas
Buildings OverviewResidential End-Use Efficiency
Building EnvelopeSmart Grid
Lighting Efficiency 

Recommended Resources

ENERGY STAR®

U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)

U.S. Energy Information Administration

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy

U.S. Green Building Council

Related Business Environmental Leadership Council (BELC) Companies

Bank of AmericaHP
Cummins Inc.IBM
Duke EnergyJohnson Controls, Inc.
ExelonToyota
  
  
  
  
  

 


[1] Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and perfluorocarbons (PFCs) are used as alternatives to several classes of ozone-depleting substances (ODSs) that are being phased out under the terms of the Montreal Protocol and the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990. Ozone depleting substances—chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), halons, carbon tetrachloride, methyl chloroform, and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs)—are used in a variety of industrial applications including refrigeration and air conditioning equipment, solvent cleaning, foam production, sterilization, fire extinguishing, and aerosols. Although HFCs and PFCs are not harmful to the stratospheric ozone layer, they are potent greenhouse gases. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2010, 2012. http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/usinventoryreport.html

[2] Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2009, 2011. http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/usinventoryreport.html

[3] U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). 2011 Buildings Energy Data Book. Section 1.4.1. Prepared for the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy by D&R International, 2012. http://buildingsdatabook.eren.doe.gov/.

[4] One million metric ton is equal to one teragram. For reference, one million metric ton of CO2e is equal to 280,000 new cars each being driven 12,500 miles or 90 minutes of U.S. energy consumption or 1 day of U.S. energy emissions from lighting buildings, see DOE, 2010 Buildings Energy Data Book, 2011.

[5] DOE, Energy Efficiency Trends in Residential and Commercial Buildings, August 2010. http://apps1.eere.energy.gov/buildings/publications/pdfs/corporate/build... U.S. Census Bureau, Housing Vacancies and Homeownership, http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/housing/hvs/historic/index.html.

[6] DOE 2010

[7] The weather factor is included to show variations in weather conditions that may have had an impact on energy use in a given year. Data that is weather-adjusted shows how the indicator would have performed under “normal” weather conditions; for example, data in years with extreme weather (such as unusually cool weather that would increase energy consumption for indoor heating) is adjusted to show performance without the influence of weather. As the figure indicates, weather conditions have remained fairly stable while other indicators have risen; this indicates that weather conditions do not have as much of an impact on energy use as other factors.

[8] International Energy Agency (IEA). World Energy Outlook, 2010 Edition. Paris: IEA, 2010. http://www.worldenergyoutlook.org/2010.asp.UNEP, Urban Density and Transport-related Energy Consumption, http://maps.grida.no/go/graphic/urban-density-and-transport-related-energy-consumption.

[9] Energy Information Administration (EIA), International Energy Outlook 2010. http://www.eia.gov/oiaf/ieo/index.html.

[10] Smith, K. R. and E. Haigler. “Co-Benefits of Climate Mitigation and Health Protection in Energy Systems: Scoping Methods.” Annual Review of Public Health 29 (2008): 11-25.

[11] EIA. International Energy Outlook 2010, http://www.eia.gov/oiaf/ieo/index.html.

 

A snapshot of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, global context, and mitigation opportunities for the residential and commercial sectors
0
Teaser: 

A snapshot of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, global context, and mitigation opportunities for the residential and commercial sectors

Electricity Overview

Related Resources:

 

Electricity Emissions in the United States

The electricity sector is responsible for about one-third of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions (see Figure 1) and 38 percent of total carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.  

Figure 1: U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions by Sector (2012)

Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2012, Table ES-7, 2014. http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/ghgemissions/usinventoryreport.html.

A snapshot of the fuels used in the United States for electricity shows that coal-fueled generation provides a little more than 39 percent of all electricity, down from nearly 50 percent in 2006. Filling this gap, natural gas now provides more than a quarter of all electricity, and renewables, including wind and large hydroelectric power, provide about 13 percent.  Nuclear power continues to provide around one-fifth of net generation (see Figure 2).

Figure 2: U.S. Net Electricity Generation by Energy Source (2013)

Source: Energy Information Administration (EIA), Monthly Energy Review, May 2014, Table 7.2a, 2014. http://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/monthly/#electricity.

The greenhouse gas emissions associated with different sources of electricity vary significantly, depending on the carbon content of the fuel being used. Carbon dioxide makes up almost 99 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation, and carbon dioxide emissions from coal combustion account for almost 80 percent of total electricity generation-related emissions. The combustion of natural gas and petroleum account for most of the remaining carbon dioxide emissions (see Figure 3). Electricity generation-related greenhouse gas emissions have decreased more than 16 percent since 2007.

Figure 3: Electricity Generation-Related GHG Emissions (2012)

Source: EPA, Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2012, Table 2-13, 2014. http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/ghgemissions/usinventoryreport.html.

Key Generation Technologies in Use

Steam Turbine

Coal-fueled electricity is generated almost exclusively by pulverized coal (PC) power plants. These plants crush coal into a fine powder and then burn it in a boiler to heat water and produce steam. The steam is then used to spin one or more turbines to generate electricity. Natural gas, oil or biomass can be used as a fuel in conjunction with steam turbine technology. Similarly, in a nuclear reactor, fission is used to heat water, which directly or indirectly produces steam to drive a turbine and generate electricity. Large coal and nuclear steam units on the order of 500 – 1000 MW or greater are typically used to provide baseload  [1] generation, meaning that they supply electricity nearly continuously.

Figure 4: Steam Turbine

Source: ONCOR. http://www.oncor.com/community/knowledgecollege/energy_library/generatin....

 

Combustion Turbine

Combustion (or single-cycle) turbines are another widespread power generation technology. In a combustion turbine, compressed air and burning fuel (diesel, natural gas, propane, kerosene, biogas, etc) are ignited in a combustion chamber. The resulting high temperature, high velocity gas flow is directed at turbine blades that spin the turbine and common shaft, which drives the air compressor and the electric power generator. Combustion turbine plants are typically operated to meet peak [2] load demand, as they are able to be switched on relatively quickly. Newer turbines are able to be switched on and off frequently, so they can provide a firm backup to intermittent wind and solar on the power grid if needed. The typical size is 100 – 400 MW.

 Figure 5: Combustion Turbine

Source: Duke Energy. http://www.duke-energy.com/about-energy/generating-electricity/oil-gas-f....

Combined-Cycle Turbine

A basic combined cycle power plant combines a single gas (combustion) turbine and a single steam unit all in one, although there are other possible configurations. As combustion turbines became more advanced in the 1950s, they began to operate at ever higher temperatures, which created a significant amount of exhaust heat. In a combined-cycle power plant, this waste heat is captured and used to boil water for a steam turbine generator, thereby creating additional generation capacity. Historically, they have been used as intermediate [3] power plants, generally supporting higher electricity use during daytime hours. However, newer natural gas combined cycle plants are now providing baseload support.

Figure 6: Combined-Cycle Turbine

Source: Global-Greenhouse-Warming.com. http://www.global-greenhouse-warming.com/gas-vs-coal.html.

Other Technologies

Select these links to find out more about nuclear power, hydropower, wind, and solar generation technologies.

End-Use

The industrial sector accounts for 26 percent of U.S. electricity sales, with the residential and commercial sector evenly sharing the remainder. (see Figure 7).

Figure 7: Retail Sales of Electricity to Ultimate Customers, Total by End Use Sector (2013)

Source: EIA, Electric Power Monthly, Table 5.1, May 29, 2014. http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/epm/table5_1.html.

The primary end uses of electricity vary by sector. In the residential sector, space heating, water heating, space cooling and lighting together account for more than half of household electricity use (see Figure 8). In the commercial sector, lighting is the largest electricity end use (see Figure 9). In the manufacturing sector, half of all electricity use is for powering electric motors (see Figure 10).

Figure 8: Residential Electricity Consumption by End Use (2010)

Source: DOE, Buildings Energy Data Book, Table 2.1.5, March 2012. http://buildingsdatabook.eren.doe.gov/ChapterIntro2.aspx.

Figure 9: Commercial Electricity Consumption by End Use (2010)

Source: DOE, Buildings Energy Data Book, Table 3.1.5, March 2012. http://buildingsdatabook.eren.doe.gov/ChapterIntro3.aspx.

Figure 10: Manufacturing Electricity Consumption by End Use (2006)

Source: EIA, Manufacturing Energy Consumption Survey (MECS), Table 5.2, 2006. http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/mecs/.

Historical Trends

Since 1949, U.S. electricity generation has grown dramatically, with an average annual growth rate of 4.2 percent (see Figure 11). Since 2000, however, U.S. electricity generation has grown at an average rate of less than 1 percent. During this time, generation from natural gas has increased at an average annual rate of 4.9 percent, and non-hydro renewable generation has increased at an average annual growth rate of 9.2 percent. Coal generation has decreased at an average annual rate of 1.6 percent, and in 2013 fell below the level generated in 1990.

Figure 11: U.S. Net Electricity Generation by Source (1949-2013)

Source: EIA, Total Energy, Electricity Net Generation, 2014. http://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/monthly/index.cfm#electricity.

From 1990 to 2013, U.S. electricity generation-related greenhouse gas emissions grew an average of 0.5 percent per year, with a general decrease in annual emissions over the past several years (see Figure 12). During this time, the proportion of electricity generation-related greenhouse gas emissions from coal combustion, which peaked in 1996 at around 85 percent, has fallen to 77 percent in 2013. The share of emissions from natural gas combustion has grown from around 9 percent in 1990 to just over 21 percent in 2013, and the share of emissions from petroleum has fallen from around 5 percent to a little more than 1 percent over the same period.

From 1990 to 2013, CO2 emissions from electricity generation, electricity generation, and real gross domestic product (GDP) grew at annual average rates of 0.5, 1.3, and 2.5 percent, respectively (see Figure 13). This illustrates that the U.S. economy grew less electricity-intensive per value of output while the electricity generation also became less carbon intensive over this period.

Figure 12: U.S. Electricity Generation-Related Greenhouse Gas Emissions (1990-2012)

Source: EPA, Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2012, Table 2-13, 2014. http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/usinventoryreport.html.

Figure 13: Relative Growth of Electricity Generation, CO2 Emissions from Electricity Generation, and GDP

Source: EPA, Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990 – 2012, Table 2-13, 2014; EIA, Total Energy, Table 7.2a, 2014. http://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/annual/index.cfm#electricity; Bureau of Economic Analysis, Gross Domestic Product, http://www.bea.gov/national/index.htm.

Global Context

Globally, CO2 is the most abundant anthropogenic greenhouse gas, accounting for 76 percent of total anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions in 2008; the CO2 emissions from fossil fuel use alone account for 62 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions. [4], [5] Electricity generation is by far the largest single source of CO2 emissions (see Figure 14).

Figure 14: Sources of Global CO2 Emissions (1970-2004, Direct Emissions by Sector Only)

Source: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), "Introduction." In Mitigation of Climate Change. Contribution of Working Group III to the Fourth Assessment Report. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007. Figure 1.2. http://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/ar4-wg3.htm

Notes: (1) Including fuel wood at 10% net contribution, large-scale biomass burning averaged data for 1997–2002, including decomposition and peat fires, excluding fossil fuel fires; (2) other domestic surface transport, non-energetic use of fuels, cement production, and venting/flaring of gas from oil production; (3) including aviation and marine transport.

The generation profile of global electricity production is similar to that of the United States, with coal being the largest energy source for electricity production (see Figure 15). Globally, 5.1 percent of electricity is generated by oil, whereas in the United States oil makes up less than 1 percent. Also, hydropower makes up a larger share of global electricity generation, while the United States gets a greater proportion of its electric power from nuclear. The United States contributes more than one-fifth of global carbon dioxide emissions from electricity and heat production; China and the United States are the largest single emitters (see Figure 16).

Figure 15: World Electricity Generation by Fuel (2011)

Source: Energy Information Administration (EIA), International Energy Statistics, 2014.
Notes: Other includes geothermal, solar, wind, combustible renewables & waste, and heat.

Figure 16: CO2 Emissions from Fossil Fuel Combustion for Electricity and Heat (2011)

Source: IEA, CO2 from Fossil Fuel Combustion 2013. Paris: IEA, 2013. http://www.iea.org/Textbase/publications/free_new_Desc.asp?PUBS_ID=1825.

 

Electricity Sector Mitigation Opportunities

In general terms, greenhouse gas emission reductions from the electric power sector can be achieved through efficiency (i.e., eliminating waste), conservation (i.e., reducing the amount of electricity generated), switching fuel sources (i.e., from coal to lower-emitting natural gas), and by incorporating low- and zero-carbon electricity generation technologies (i.e., reducing the emissions associated with electricity generation), such as renewable energy, carbon capture and storage, and nuclear power.

Many studies have analyzed the most cost-effective mix of emission-reduction options. Some of the most widely cited studies include:

 

C2ES Work on Electricity

Over the past 20 years U.S. electricity generation has become less carbon intensive, and the U.S. economy has grown less electricity-intensive. Further mitigating greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation will require a comprehensive approach, including lower-, low- and zero-carbon electricity generation technologies, incorporating renewable energy, switching to lower-emitting fuels, coal or gas with carbon capture and storage, and nuclear power, as well as energy efficiency and conservation. Several types of policies can be employed to promote these mitigation techniques, including emissions pricing (e.g. carbon tax or cap and trade), electricity portfolio standards (also known as clean energy standards), emission performance standards, financial incentives for clean energy deployment and energy efficiency, and research and development to support innovative technologies.  

Our work at C2ES covers all types of electricity-related topics, including policy and regulation, low-carbon technology status and outlook, and technology innovation. We track and inform policymaking at the state, federal, and regional levels, collaborate on research for papers and briefs, blog about current energy issues, and educate policymakers and others with up-to-date online resources about important low-carbon technologies. 

Tracking policy - We track policy progress at the state, federal, and international level. Our state maps provide information about which states have implemented policies that promote low-carbon electricity technologies and energy efficiency. We also track and analyze policy at the national level, including what is happening in Congress and the Executive Branch.

Research - We produce research, including reports, white papers, and briefs, on climate and clean energy issues. For example, our 2005 report titled The U.S. Electric Power Sector and Climate Change Mitigation is a comprehensive look at reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity sector. 

Climate Compass Blog - Our blog includes posts about current issues related to electricity, and you can view relevant posts here.

Climate Techbook - The Climate Techbook provides briefs describing technologies related to electricity generation and energy efficiency. Below is a list of the Techbook factsheets that pertain to electricity.

Anaerobic Digesters

Geothermal Energy

Biopower

Hydrokinetic Electric Power Generation

Building Envelope

Hydropower

Buildings Overview

Natural Gas

Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS)

Nuclear Power

Cogeneration / Combined Heat and Power (CHP)

Smart Grid

Energy Storage

Solar Power

Enhanced Geothermal Systems

Wind Power

 

 

Recommended Resources

International Energy Agency (IEA)

·         World Energy Outlook

·         Energy Technology Perspectives 2010: Scenarios & Strategies to 2050

U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)

·         Electric Power

U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA)

·         Electricity Overview

·         Electricity Explained

U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

·         US Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory

·         Clean Energy

·         GHG Performance Standards for Power Plants

Bipartisan Policy Center

Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI)  

Environmental Defense Fund (EDF)

Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)

Resources for the Future (RFF)

World Resources Institute (WRI)

 

Related Business Environmental Leadership Council (BELC) Companies

Air Products

Exelon

Alcoa

GE

Alstom

HP

BP

Johnson Controls

DTE Energy

PG&E Corporation

Duke Energy

Rio Tinto

Entergy

Shell

 

 

 

 



 [1] Baseload generation describes electric power plants that typically run all day and night, seven days a week.

 [2] Peak generation describes electric power plants that run only during times of the highest demand.  For example, high demand can occur in the morning when many consumers are waking up and switching on electric appliances or on hot summer afternoons when many air conditioners are running simultaneously.

 [3] Intermediate generation describes electric power plants that typically run only during daytime hours to support higher use of electrical appliances, computers, lighting and so on.

 [4] International Energy Agency (IEA), CO2 Emissions From Fuel Combustion (2011). Section III, Figure 1, p III.4.

 [5] Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Climate Change 2007: Mitigation. Contribution of Working Group III to the Fourth Assessment Report. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007. See Figure 1.1b, available at http://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/ar4-wg3.htm.

 

 

A snapshot of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, global context, and mitigation opportunities for the electricity sector
0
Teaser: 

A snapshot of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, global context, and mitigation opportunities for the electricity sector

Industrial Overview

Related Resources

Industrial Emissions in the United States

Greenhouse gas emissions data can be reported either by economic sector, which includes electric power generation as a separate sector, or by end-use sector, which distributes the emissions from electricity generation across the economic sectors where the electricity is used. The industrial sector encompasses a wide range of activities (manufacturing, agriculture, mining and construction), including all facilities and equipment used for producing, processing, or assembling goods.[1] Greenhouse gas emissions are produced from diverse processes, including the combustion of fossil fuels for heat and power, non-energy use of fossil fuels, and numerous industrial processes. The industrial sector is a large consumer of centrally generated electricity (26 percent of total U.S. electricity sales), so it is appropriate to address both emissions from direct sources and electricity end use for this sector. When electric power sector emissions are assigned to the end-use sectors that consume the electricity, the industrial sector accounts for 30 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

Direct emissions

Direct emissions from the industrial sector account for 21 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions in the United States (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions by Economic Sector (2010)

Source: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2010, Table ES-7, 2012. http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/usinventoryreport.html

Emissions from the industrial sector come from fossil fuel combustion from all manufacturing facilities (52 percent) and from non-energy-related industrial processes activities (48 percent).[2] For example, heating iron ore to produce iron directly releases carbon dioxide (CO2). Similarly, the cement manufacturing process requires heating limestone, which also results in the release of CO2.

In addition to on-site fossil fuel combustion, the main sources of industrial emissions in the United States (Figure 2) include: natural gas systems (18 percent), the non-energy use of fuels (8 percent), coal mining (5 percent), iron and steel production (4 percent), petroleum systems (2 percent), cement production (2 percent), and a variety of other sources (8 percent).[3] Industrial process emissions, which excludes on-site fossil fuel combustion, mobile combustion, natural gas systems and non-energy use of fuels, account for 4 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

Figure 2: Direct Emissions of Greenhouse Gases from the U.S. Industrial Sector (2010)[4]

Source: EPA, Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2010, Table 2-12, 2012. http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/usinventoryreport.html

Industrial process emissions include numerous greenhouse gases, including several gases with high global warming potentials, like hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6). Global warming potential (GWP) is a metric used to compare the warming effects of different gases. Over a 100-year time horizon, carbon dioxide (CO2) is assumed to have a GWP of one. In comparison, SF6 has a GWP of 23,900, which means that over 100 years one ton of SF6 will have the same effect as 23,900 tons of CO2 (see Table 1).[5]

The industrial sector is responsible for 34 percent of total non-CO2 emissions, specifically 49 percent of total U.S. methane (CH4), 9 percent of nitrous oxide (N2O), and 21 percent of other (HFCs, PFCs and SF6) emissions.[6]

Table 1: Global Warming Potentials for 100-year Time Horizon

Gas

GWP

Carbon dioxide

CO2

1

Methane

CH4

21

Nitrous oxide

N2O

310

Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs)

HFC-23

HFC- 32

HFC-125

HFC-134a

HFC-143a

HFC-152a

HFC-227ea

HFS-236fa

HFC-4310mee

11,700

650

2,800

1,300

3,800

140

2,900

6,300

1,300

Perfluorocarbons (PFCs)

CF4

C2F6

C4F10

C6F14

6,500

9,200

7,000

7,400

Sulfur hexafluoride

SF6

23,900

 

Source: EPA, Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2008, Table ES-1, 2010. http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/usinventoryreport.html

Between 1990 and 2010, total industrial process emissions decreased a little more than 3 percent, as emission decreases from some sources have been offset by increases from other sources. Notably, HFCs have increased more than 70 percent during this time period as a result of phasing out ozone depleting substances, such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) (see Figure 3).[7] Also, the economic downturn and slow recovery (2008 – 10) has reduced CO2 emissions from cement production more than 33 percent below their 2006 peak.[8]

Figure 3: Industrial Process Emissions by Greenhouse Gas Type in Million Metric Tons (MMT) of CO2e[9]

Source: EPA, Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2010, Table 2-6, 2012. http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/usinventoryreport.html

End-use emissions

U.S. electricity sales are split among the residential, commercial, and industrial sectors, with the industrial sector accounting for almost 26 percent of sales (see Figure 4).

Figure 4: Retail Sales of Electricity to Ultimate Customers, Total by End-Use Sector(2010)

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), Electric Power Monthly, Table 5.1, September 2012. http://www.eia.gov/electricity/monthly/epm_table_grapher.cfm?t=epmt_5_01

When greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation are distributed across the end-use sectors, the industrial sector is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, responsible for 30 percent of total U.S. emissions (see Figure 5). Emissions from the use of electricity generated off-site (“electricity-related emissions” in the graph below) are also called indirect emissions to distinguish them from the direct emissions released on site.  

Figure 5: Direct and Electricity-related Greenhouse Gas Emissions by End-Use Sector (2010)


Source: EPA, Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2010, Table 2-14, 2012. http://epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/usinventoryreport.html

Relative to the residential and commercial sectors, a smaller percentage of the industrial sector’s greenhouse gas emissions come from electricity use. The industrial sector relies less on purchased electricity in part because of the on-site production of heat and power, also known as cogeneration or combined heat and power (CHP). 

Industrial Emission Sources and Types

The industrial sector encompasses a diverse collection of businesses that have a variety of energy and feedstock needs to create products that range from paper to gasoline to pharmaceuticals. While greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity sector depend largely on the type of fuel used, and emissions from the residential and commercial sectors come largely from buildings, similar generalizations cannot be made about the industrial sector. Examining industrial emissions on an industry-by-industry basis shows that the magnitude of emissions associated with different industries varies significantly (see Figure 6).

Figure 6: Greenhouse gas Emissions for Key Industrial Sub-sectors in Million Metric Tons (MMT) of CO2e (2002)

http://www.c2es.org/docUploads/figure6_2.png

Source: EPA, Quantifying Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Key Industrial Sectors in the United States, Working Draft, Table 1-3, 2008.  http://www.epa.gov/ispd/

Figure 6 also shows the relative importance of different types of emissions to individual industries. For example, five industries (oil and gas, chemicals, iron and steel, mining, and cement) produce the majority of non-combustion-related direct emissions. Similarly, oil and gas, chemicals, construction, forest products, and food and beverages produce large amounts of greenhouse gas emissions from on-site fossil fuel combustion. 

Certain industries are termed energy-intensive because they require large energy inputs per unit of output or activity. The largest energy-consuming industries in the United States are bulk chemicals, oil and gas, steel, paper, and food products; these five industries account for 60 percent of industrial energy use, but only 22 percent of the value of the products. Other energy-intensive industries include glass, cement, and aluminum. In general, energy-intensive industries are growing more slowly in the United States than industries with lower energy intensities.[10]

Historical Trends

Total industrial emissions in the United States have gradually declined over the past decade in both absolute and relative terms (see Figure 7). From 1990 to 2010 U.S. industrial output increased by 45 percent, while CO2 emissions from industrial processes decreased by a little over 8 percent. Several factors have contributed to this reduction, including development of new methods (less carbon intensive), fuel switching, increased efficiency, and changes to the U.S. economy from a more manufacturing-based to a more service-based economy and from more energy-intensive industries to less energy-intensive industries. Over time, the proportion of industrial greenhouse gas emissions from electricity use has increased, while the proportion of greenhouse gases from direct emissions has decreased.[11]

Figure 7: Greenhouse Gas Emissions by End-Use Sector (2010)

Source: EPA, Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2010, Table 2-14, 2012. http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/usinventoryreport.html

The industrial sector is the largest end-user of energy in the United States. Since 1973, total energy consumption has increased across all end-use sectors except the industrial sector (see Figure 8). This is due to three primary factors: a shift away from manufacturing and towards a more service-oriented economy; a move towards less energy-intensive manufacturing, and energy efficiency in the industrial sector.[12]

Figure 8. Total Energy Consumption by End-Use Sector 1973 – 2011


Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), Monthly Energy Review, September 2012. http://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/monthly/pdf/sec2_3.pdf

Global Context

At the global level, the industrial sector is a key energy consumer and greenhouse gas producer. Manufacturing industries account for more than one-third of total energy consumption and 37 percent of CO2 emissions from energy use.[13] At the global level, data on non-CO2 gases and non-combustion CO2 emissions have higher levels of uncertainty.[14] A small number of industries account for a large percentage of global industrial emissions. In 2007, five industries (chemicals and petrochemicals, iron and steel, non-metallic minerals, pulp and paper, and non-ferrous metals) accounted for 50 percent of total industrial energy use.[15]

Trends in global industrial energy use and emissions include:

  • Overall industrial energy use increased between 1971 and 2004, with demand growing especially rapidly in emerging economies.
  • Energy efficiency in energy-intensive manufacturing industries has increased, with Japan and Korea generally achieving the highest levels of energy efficiency.
  • Cost-effective greenhouse gas mitigation opportunities exist for the industrial sector but are currently under-utilized in both developed and developing countries. The adoption of best practice commercial technologies by manufacturing industries could reduce industrial sector CO2 emissions by 19-32 percent annually by, for example, improving the efficiency of motor systems.[16]
  • Since 1970, several energy-intensive industries have seen significant growth. For example, production of steel increased 84 percent; paper, 180 percent; ammonia, 200 percent; aluminum 223 percent; and cement, 271 percent.[17]
  • Developed economies usually have a more energy-efficient industrial sector, and a larger fraction of their output comes from non-energy-intensive sectors than is the case for developing economies.  On average, industrial energy intensity, which is the industrial sector’s energy consumption per dollar of economic output, is double in developing countries. Energy-intensive manufacturing industries are growing in many developing countries. Industrial energy use frequently accounts for a larger portion of total energy consumption in these countries; for example, an estimated 75 percent of delivered energy in China was used by the industrial sector in 2007.[18]
  • In 2007 the industrial sector comprised 51 percent of global energy use, and is projected to grow at an annual rate of 1.3 percent.[19]

Industrial Sector Mitigation Opportunities

There is a diverse portfolio of options for mitigating greenhouse gas emissions from the industrial sector, including energy efficiency, fuel switching, combined heat and power, renewable energy sources, and the more efficient use and recycling of materials.  The diverse opportunities for reducing emissions from the industrial sector can be broken down into three broad categories:[20]

Sector-wide options

Some mitigation options can be used across many different industries, for example energy efficiency improvements for cross-cutting technologies, such as electric motor systems, can yield benefits across diverse sub-sectors. Other sector-wide mitigation options include the use of fuel switching, combined heat and power, renewable energy sources, more efficient electricity use, more efficient use of materials and materials recycling, and carbon capture and storage.

Process-specific options

Certain mitigation opportunities come from improvements to specific processes and are not applicable across the entire sector. For energy-intensive industries, process improvements can reduce energy demand and, therefore, greenhouse gas emissions and energy costs. Other improvements can reduce emissions of non-CO2 gases with high global warming potentials.

Case studies can help illuminate the effectiveness of these process-specific options. For example, Alcoa’s aluminum smelters collectively reduced their emissions of perfluorocarbons (PFCs) from anode effects, which occur when a particular step in the smelting process is interrupted, by more than 1.1 million tons in 2008.[21]

Operating procedures

A variety of mitigation opportunities can be achieved through improvements to standard operating procedures. These options can include making optimal use of currently available technologies, such as improving insulation and reducing air leaks in furnaces.

A variety of public and private efforts have been developed to help reduce industrial greenhouse gas emissions, energy use, or energy intensity. Some of these programs include:

  • Climate Leaders – U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • Partnership between industry and government to develop comprehensive climate change strategies. http://www.epa.gov/stateply/
  • Climate VISION – Interagency program, including U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), U.S. EPA, U.S. Department of Transportation, and U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • Voluntary program to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions intensity. http://climatevision.gov/
  • ENERGY STAR® for Industry – U.S. EPA
  • Program to improve corporate energy management. http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=industry.bus_industry
  • Save Energy Now – U.S. DOE, Industrial Technologies Program
  • Program to achieve the goal of reducing industrial energy intensity 25 percent by 2017, per the Energy Policy Act of 2005. http://www1.eere.energy.gov/industry/saveenergynow/
  • Voluntary Programs to Reduce High Global Warming Potential Gases – U.S. EPA
  • A variety of programs to reduce gases with high global warming potentials, including perfluorocarbons (PFCs), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6). http://www.epa.gov/highgwp/voluntary.html

C2ES Work in the Industrial Sector

At C2ES we work on several issues related to climate change and the industrial sector, including emissions reduction policy, energy efficiency, and adaptation. We track and inform policymakers about pragmatic policy options at the state, federal, and international level, collaborate on white papers and reports, blog about current issues impacting the industrial sector, and keep up-to-date online resources on innovative technologies.

Tracking Policy - We keep track of state, federal, and international policy that will impact the industrial sector. Our state maps have information about which states have adopted various GHG mitigation policies. We also track and analyze federal policy, including what is happening in Congress and the Executive Branch.

Research - At C2ES, we produce research, including reports, white papers, and briefs, on issues related to climate change and industry. C2ES's Corporate Energy Efficiency Project is a multi-year research and communications effort to identify and highlight the most effective methods used by companies, including many industrial firms, to reduce their energy consumption and lower their related GHG emissions. Other examples of relevant C2ES work include The Competitiveness Impacts of Climate Change Mitigation Policies and Adaption to Climate Change: A Business Approach.

Climate Compass Blog - Our blog includes entries about current perspectives on GHG emissions from Industry, and can be viewed here.

Climate Techbook - The industrial section of the Climate Techbook includes an overview of GHG emissions from the industrial sector as well as technologies that can be used to reduce those emissions. Below is a list of the Techbook factsheets that pertain to the industrial sector.

Industrial OverviewCarbon Capture and Storage (CCS)
Anaerobic DigestersCogeneration / Combined Heat and Power (CHP)
Building EnvelopeHigh Global Warming Potential Gas Abatement
Buildings OverviewNatural Gas

Recommended Resources

Alliance to Save Energy

American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)

U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA)

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Related Business Environmental Leadership Council (BELC) Companies

Air ProductsHP
AlcoaHolcim
AlstomIBM
BPIntel
Cummins Johnson Controls
Dow PG&E
DTE EnergyRio Tinto
Duke EnergyRoyal Dutch / Shell
DuPontToyota
EntergyTransAlta
ExelonWeyerhaeuser
GE 
  
  
  
  

 


[1] U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). Glossary. http://www.eia.doe.gov/glossary/glossary_i.htm.  Accessed 4 May 2007.

[2] U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2010. 2012. http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/usinventoryreport.html

[3] U.S. EPA, 2012.

[4] One million metric ton is equal to one teragram. For reference, one million metric ton of CO2e is equal to 280,000 new cars each being driven 12,500 miles or 90 minutes of U.S. energy consumption or 1 day of U.S. energy emissions from lighting buildings, see U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), 2009 Buildings Energy Data Book. Prepared for U.S. Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy by D&R International, Ltd. Silver Spring, MD. 2009. http://buildingsdatabook.eren.doe.gov

[5] Global warming potential is a system of multipliers devised to enable warming effects of different gases to be compared. The cumulative warming effect, over a specified time period, of an emission of a mass unit of CO2 is assigned the value of 1. Effects of emissions of a mass unit of non-CO2 greenhouse gases are estimated as multiples. For example, over the next 100 years, a gram of methane (CH4) in the atmosphere is currently estimated as having 23 times the warming effect as a gram of carbon dioxide; methane's 100-year GWP is thus 23. Estimates of GWP vary depending on the time-scale considered (e.g., 20-, 50-, or 100-year GWP) because the effects of some GHGs are more persistent than others.

[6] U.S. EPA, 2012

[7] U.S. EPA, 2012

[8] U.S. EPA, 2012

[9] Carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) is a unit used to measure the emissions of a gas, by weight, multiplied by its global warming potential.

[10] EIA, Annual Energy Outlook 20010. May 2010. http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/aeo/demand.html

[11] U.S. EPA, 2012

[12] Department of Energy. Industrial Total Energy Consumption.  April 14, 2008.  http://www1.eere.energy.gov/ba/pba/intensityindicators/total_industrial....

[13] Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), “Industry.” In Climate Change 2007: Mitigation. Contribution of Working Group III to the Fourth Assessment Report. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007. http://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/ar4-wg3.htm

[14] IPCC, 2007. 

[15] EIA, International Energy Outlook 2010. July 2010. http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/ieo/pdf/0484(2010).pdf

[16] IPCC, 2007.

[17] Ibid.

[18] EIA, July 2010.

[19] Ibid.

[20] IPCC, 2007.

[21] Alcoa, “Alcoa Smelters Meet Challenge to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions by One Million Tons Annually,” http://www.alcoa.com/global/en/about_alcoa/sustainability/case_studies/2009/case_ghg_million_ton.asp. Accessed 6 May 2009. 

 

 

A snapshot of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, global context, and mitigation opportunities for the industrial sector
0
Teaser: 

A snapshot of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, global context, and mitigation opportunities for the industrial sector

Transportation Overview

Related Resources:

U.S. Emissions

More than one-quarter of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions come from the transportation sector (see Figure 1), making transportation the second largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States after the electric power sector.

Figure 1: U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions by Sector (2010)

Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2010, Table ES-7, 2012. http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/usinventoryreport.html.

The transportation sector consists of passenger vehicles (a category including both passenger cars and light-duty trucks), medium- and heavy-duty trucks, buses, and rail, marine, and air transport. Of the various transportation modes, passenger vehicles consume the most energy (see Figure 2). Greenhouse gas emissions mirror energy use by each mode, because all modes use petroleum fuels with similar carbon contents and thus greenhouse gas emissions.

Figure 2: Transportation Energy Use by Mode (2010).

Source: U.S. Department of Energy. Transportation Energy Data Book, Table 2.5, 2011.  http://cta.ornl.gov/data/chapter2.shtml

The vast majority of transportation emissions (95 percent) are composed of carbon dioxide (CO2), which is released during fossil fuel combustion. An additional one percent of total transportation GHG emissions come from methane (CH4) and nitrous oxides (N2O), emissions also associated with fossil fuel combustion. The leakage of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) from vehicle air conditioning systems is responsible for the remaining three percent of transportation GHG emissions. Transportation sources also emit hydrocarbons (which are ozone precursors), carbon monoxide (CO), and aerosols. These substances are not counted as greenhouse gases in transportation emissions inventories but are believed to have an indirect effect on global warming, although their impact has not been quantified with certainty.[1]

Factors Affecting Transportation Emissions

Transportation energy use and emissions are determined by four interrelated but distinct factors: the type of fuels or energy sources, the vehicles, the distance traveled, and the overall system infrastructure.

  • Fuel Types and Energy Sources

The transportation sector is the largest consumer of petroleum-based fuels in the United States. Importantly, transportation accounts for about 70 percent of U.S. oil consumption, which greatly affects U.S. energy security.

Figure 3: Petroleum and Other Liquids Production and Consumption, 1970–2010.

Source: U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA), Annual Energy Review 2011, Table 5.1a, 5.13c, 2011. http://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/annual/index.cfm#petroleum

Nearly all fossil fuel energy consumption in the transportation sector is from petroleum-based fuels (97.4 percent), with a small amount from natural gas.[2] There are several types of petroleum fuels used for transportation. Table 1 lists the major petroleum-based transportation fuels and the volume consumed in the United States in 2010.

Table 1: Estimated U.S. Transportation Sector Petroleum Consumption (2010), Million Gallons.

Fuel Type

Consumption

Motor Gasoline

 136,091.13

Distillate Fuel Oil (Diesel)

 41,612.42

Jet Fuel

 21,825.89

Residual Fuel Oil

 6,042.41

Lubricants

 971.59

Aviation Gasoline

 225.12

Liquefied Petroleum Gases

 314.75

Total

 207,083.31

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), Annual Energy Review, Table 5.13c, 2011. http://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/annual/index.cfm#petroleum

Petroleum fuels are supported by an extensive and well-functioning infrastructure and have the benefit of high energy density, low cost, and a demonstrated ability to adapt to a range of operating conditions.

 

The production and consumption of biofuels has increased significantly since 2005, due to the state and federal renewable fuel standards, which mandate minimum annual consumption levels of ethanol and biodiesel, the two renewable biofuels. Ethanol is an alcohol produced from crops such as corn, vegetable waste, wheat, and others; it is usually combined with gasoline to increase octane levels and more efficient fuel utilization.[3] Biodiesel is produced from natural oils like soybean oil and functions only in diesel engines.[4] In 2010, ethanol (3.9 percent) and biodiesel (0.1 percent) made up four percent of the total primary energy consumed in the transportation sector.[5]

 

  • Vehicle Efficiency

Over the last 30 years, the fuel economy (miles per gallon, mpg) of new passenger vehicles in the United States has improved significantly, increasing by more than 30 percent. Until very recently, most of the gains occurred in the early years of fuel economy regulation under the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) program. Fuel economy improvements were nearly stagnant from the late 1980s to the early 2000s. Over this period, the technical efficiency (amount of energy needed to move a given vehicle mass) of light-duty vehicles improved, although fuel economy (the amount of gasoline consumed per mile traveled) remained unchanged, as consumer preferences shifted to larger, heavier, and more powerful vehicles. Fuel economy standard for light trucks were increased slightly  in 2003, and recent federal vehicle standards adopted in 2010 and 2012 are expected to raise average fuel economy as high as 54.5 mpg for model year 2025.

Transportation modes other than passenger vehicles also have efficiency improvement opportunities. For instance, aircraft energy intensity has historically improved at an average rate of 1.2-2.2 percent per year,[6] although aircraft energy intensity steadily plateaued through the 1990s and early 2000s due to both historically low fuel prices and a tripling in the average age of aircraft and engine production lines since 1989.[7] In addition, federal vehicle standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles were adopted in 2011, and should improve fuel efficiency significantly.

Figure 4: Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) Standards vs. Sales-Weighted Fuel Economy Estimates.

Source: NHTSA, Summary of Fuel Economy Performance, 2012. http://www.nhtsa.gov/staticfiles/rulemaking/pdf/cafe/2011_Summary_Report...

  • Vehicle Use and Distance Traveled

The third factor that affects transportation emissions is the amount of vehicle use and distance traveled. Transportation demand is influenced by the geographic distribution of people and places, especially the density of development and zoning. Over the past 50 years, on-road vehicle miles traveled (VMT) steadily increased until 2008, and has since declined slightly because of high fuel costs and slowing economic growth.

 

The absolute growth in distance traveled for modes has been similar. The use of all transportation modes (particularly freight transport and air travel) is still projected to grow rapidly in the future.

Figure 5: Annual On-Road Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT).

Source: U.S. Department of Energy, Transportation Energy Data Book, Table 3.7, 2012. http://www-cta.ornl.gov/data/chapter3.shtml

  • System Efficiency

The overall operation of the transportation system also plays an important role in GHG emissions. For example, congestion results when transportation demand exceeds capacity and poses a challenge for almost all modes of transportation, from on-road and highway transport, air, and rail. Shifting travel to other modes can reduce congestion, as can electronic signaling and other measures to smooth traffic flows. Reducing congestion has the benefit of lowering fuel consumption and GHG emissions by decreasing the time spent idling. For freight (via rail, truck, and ship) and air traffic, system improvements that allow vehicles to take more direct routes from origin to destination can reduce energy use and emissions.

Global Context

Transportation activity is expected to grow significantly in all countries of the next 25 years. Over the next two decades, vehicle ownership is expected to double worldwide, with most of the increase occurring in non-OECD countries. The U.S. Department of Energy projects that non-OECD transportation energy use will increase by an average of 2.6 percent per year from 2008 to 2035, compared to an average increase of 0.3 percent per year for OECD countries.[8] Figure 6 shows projected worldwide energy consumption in the transportation sector.

Figure 6: Global Projections for Transportation Sector, Liquids Consumption, 2008-2035.

Source: U.S. Energy Information Agency, International Energy Outlook 2011. http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/ieo/transportation.cfm

Transportation Sector GHG Mitigation Opportunities

Reducing GHG emissions from transportation will require a systematic approach to address the four interdependent yet distinct components of the sector.

  • On the fuels side, transitioning to low-carbon energy sources, such as advanced biofuels or electricity produced from renewable sources, can directly reduce the carbon emissions from fuel consumption.
  • Significantly more efficient transportation equipment is needed to complement the transition to low-carbon fuel sources. Alternative vehicle designs include flexible fuel vehicles that can run on a mix of biofuels and petroleum-based fuels or are powered by electricity and stored on-board in batteries or by hydrogen fuel cells.
  • Vehicle travel demand is affected by a number of factors. Changing land use patterns and increasing alternative travel options, such as biking, walking or rail, can reduce the use of more energy-intensive modes of transportation.
  • Increasing the efficiency of the transportation system would require both improving accessibility to and performance of the various modes of transportation and using more efficient ones. Advanced traffic monitoring and signaling can reduce congestion and improve the overall efficiency of the transportation system.

 

A strategy to reduce GHG emissions from the transportation sector will need to take into account the potential efficiency improvements for each mode of transportation and determine the appropriate reduction strategy for each. Policies that facilitate the adoption of low-carbon technologies and align infrastructure development and land use planning with GHG reduction goals can lead to further GHG reductions in these areas.

Several studies have analyzed the most cost-effective approach to emission reductions in transportation. Some of these studies include:

C2ES Work on Transportation

Achieving emission reductions and oil savings from the transportation sector requires a multi-pronged approach that includes improving vehicle efficiency, lowering the carbon content of fuels, reducing vehicle miles traveled, and improving the efficiency of the overall transportation system. 

At C2ES, we focus on all aspects of transportation from improving vehicle technology to the benefits of land-use planning. We produce cutting-edge research; track policy progress at the state, federal, and international level; blog on current transportation issues; and create and maintain an online resource of transportation technology. 

Cutting-Edge Research - In our 2011 report titled Reducing Greenhouse Emissions from U.S. Transportation, we identify cost-effective solutions that will significantly reduce transportation's impact on our climate while improving our energy security. See all our transportation-related publications.

Convening Stakeholders - We've run a multi-year stakeholder dialogue to help enable a national electric vehicle market in the United States. The PEV Dialogue Initiative is a one-of-a-kind effort aimed at identifying policies and actions by public and private stakeholders to accelerate the deployment of electric vehicles. 

Policy Progress - We track action at the state, federal, and international level. Our state maps provide useful overviews of action to promote alternative technologies. We also summarize action in Congress and in the Executive Branch, such as our summaries of the Renewable Fuel Standard and Vehicle Fuel Economy and Emission Standards. Lastly we track action at the international level, such as our comparison of international fuel economy standards.

Climate Compass Blog - On our blog, we provide C2ES's take on the latest news from the transportation sector. See our transportation blog postings

Climate TechBook - The transportation section of the Climate TechBook introduces different modes of transportation along with policies to help mitigate GHG emissions and save oil. Below is a list of all the transportation-related factsheets within the TechBook.

Transportation OverviewEthanol
Advanced BiohydrocarbonsFreight Transportation
AviationHydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles
BiodieselMarine Shipping
BiofuelsTransportation Modes
Cellulosic Ethanol 

Recommended Resources

U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)

U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Joint Federal Programs

Transportation Documents by the Natural Resources Defense Council 

The World Resources Institute Center for Sustainable Transport: EMBARQ 

AASHTO Transportation and Climate Change Resource Center

Related Business Environmental Leadership Council (BELC) Companies

AlcoaDuPont
AlstomGE
Air ProductsJohnson Controls, Inc.
BPRio Tinto
CumminsRoyal Dutch/Shell
DaimlerToyota
Dow Chemical CompanyWeyerhaeuser
  
  

 

[1] Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2010, 2012. http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/usinventoryreport.html

[2] EIA, Annual Energy Review 2010, Table 2.1e, 2011. http://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/annual/index.cfm#consumption

[3] Renewable Fuels Association. “Ethanol Facts”. http://www.ethanolrfa.org/pages/ethanol-facts. Accessed December 10, 2012

[4] National Biodiesel Board, “What is Biodiesel?”. http://www.biodiesel.org/what-is-biodiesel. Accessed December 10, 2012.

[5] EIA, Annual Energy Review 2010, Table 10.2b, 2011. http://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/annual/index.cfm#renewable

[6] McCollum, D., Gould, G. and Greene, D., Aviation and Marine Transportation: GHG Mitigation Potential and Challenges. Prepared for the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, 2009. http://www.c2es.org/technology/report/aviation-and-marine  

[8] EIA, International Energy Outlook 2011, Chapter 7, 2011. http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/ieo/table15.cfm

 

A snapshot of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, global context, and mitigation opportunities for the transportation sector
0
Teaser: 

A snapshot of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, global context, and mitigation opportunities for the transportation sector

The interdependence of water and energy

Have you ever thought that by leaving a light on, you’re wasting water, or that a leaky faucet wastes energy? It’s odd, but accurate.

That’s because water and energy are interrelated. Water is used in all phases of energy production, and energy is required to extract, pump, and move water for human consumption. Energy is also needed to treat wastewater so it can be safely returned to the environment.

C2ES recently hosted a series of webinars (video and slides here) on the intersection between water and energy (sometimes referred to as the “nexus”). The series was co-sponsored by the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies and the Water Information Sharing and Analysis Center. Participants discussed how the water and energy sectors depend on each other and how they can work together to conserve resources.

How much energy does it take to provide people with safe drinking water and safely treat wastewater? Kristen Averyt, director of the University of Colorado’s Western Water Assessment, says the water sector uses about 13 percent of the nation’s electricity. In some areas, like the Mountain West and Southwest, it’s even higher.

In California, the East Bay Municipal Utility District reports that water-related energy use consumes 19 percent of the state’s electricity – enough to power 4.8 million homes. It also accounts for 30 percent of the state’s natural gas use, and consumption of 88 million gallons of diesel fuel.

On the other side of the equation, large amounts of water are needed to produce electricity. Averyt says a nuclear power plant with a once-through cooling cycle can withdraw up to 60,000 gallons of water from its cooling water source for every megawatt hour, the amount of electricity used by about 330 homes for one hour. A coal-fired power plant with a cooling pond consumes about 35,000 gallons per megawatt hour.

The production of natural gas, an important fuel for generating electricity, also requires a lot of water. According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s report The Water-Energy Nexus: Challenges and Opportunities, it takes 2 million to 9 million gallons of water to fracture one horizontal well in a shale formation.

So what are energy producers and water utilities doing to conserve?

In some cases, they’re forming partnerships to save resources. The Orange Water and Sewer Authority in North Carolina is working with Duke Energy to review use, rates, and service contracts. Together, they have saved money on energy use by a wastewater treatment plant and on standby power generation.

In San Antonio, Texas, CPS Energy and the San Antonio Water System, which are both city-owned but independently managed, are also working together. Each utility is largest customer of the other. Since the 1960s, they have cooled the city’s power plants using wastewater, rather than drinking water. CPS Energy’s Doris Cooksey says as a result, the city has had enough water for power generation even in times of drought.

Other companies are also taking steps to cut water and energy use. American Water, which provides drinking water and wastewater treatment to about 14 million people in 30 states and parts of Canada, is cutting its energy use by replacing aging motors and pipes. The company is also installing solar panels, which likely use less water to generate electricity. American Water’s Suzanne Chiavari says the solar applications produce about 3.7 million kilowatt hours per year, avoiding 2,500 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually in the process.

Learning about the relationship between energy and water helps us to understand how our own daily activities affect these important resources. By using water wisely, we can save energy – and vice versa.

CCS projects see progress

Three recent announcements signal important progress toward greater deployment of technology to capture and store carbon emissions that would otherwise escape into the atmosphere. CCS technology can capture up to 90 percent of emissions from power plants and industrial facilities and is critical to reducing climate-changing emissions while fossil fuels remain part of our energy mix.

One piece of good news came when NRG Energy announced it has begun construction on the Petra Nova Project in Texas, where an existing coal-fired power plant will be retrofitted with carbon capture equipment. The Petra Nova Project will be the world’s third commercial-scale CCS power project, following the nearly-completed SaskPower Boundary Dam project in Saskatchewan, Canada, and Southern Company’s Kemper County Energy Facility in Mississippi opening in 2015.

Once it starts operations in 2016, Petra Nova will capture up to 1.6 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year, 90 percent of its total emissions. The CO2 will be sold for use in enhanced oil recovery. Revenue from using captured CO2 to coax additional production from declining oil fields provides an important financial incentive for carbon capture, and results in the eventual permanent storage of the CO2 underground.

Petra Nova’s investors include JX Nippon, a Japanese oil and gas company; the Japan Bank for International Cooperation, and Mizuho Bank. In 2010, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) awarded the project a $167 million grant through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

It was also encouraging news when the United States and China announced this month that partners from both countries have agreed to collaborate on several CCS projects. Under one agreement, Seattle-based Summit Power and Huaneng Group, China’s largest power generator, will share lessons learned from developing two commercial-scale CCS power projects. These include Summit’s Texas Clean Energy Project (TCEP), a proposed coal-fired CCS power plant in West Texas that DOE also selected for Recovery Act funding, and a similar project Huaneng is building in China.

Coal currently provides 39 percent of electricity in the United States and 78 percent in China, where its use is expected to grow. U.S. and Chinese leaders hope these partnerships will help both nations further CCS deployment.

Finally, the White Rose CCS Project, a coal-fired CCS power plant in the United Kingdom, is set to begin construction after receiving a €300 million grant (approximately $400 million) from the European Commission’s New Entrants’ Reserve (NER) 300 program. NER 300 funds clean energy projects, and White Rose is the first CCS project recipient.

White Rose’s project partners, including National Grid, Alstom, BOC, and Drax, envision the facility laying the groundwork for a much larger effort. White Rose will capture up to 2 million tons of carbon dioxide per year, but pipelines and storage infrastructure will be designed to accommodate 17 million tons of carbon dioxide per year from other capture projects in the region.

These projects are important milestones, and will be instructive to future projects. The involvement of multiple nations, private companies and investors in these projects underscores the importance of CCS in reducing global greenhouse gas emissions. Cost remains one of the major barriers to deployment, but as more commercial-scale CCS projects are completed, costs will fall, allowing the technology to become more widely adopted.

 

Energy efficiency financing models for buildings could work for natural gas vehicles

Owners of large buildings who want to save money by improving energy efficiency first have to overcome a huge hurdle – the upfront costs of getting the work done. A similar hurdle exists for fleet managers considering switching to natural gas vehicles to save on fuel costs – high initial expenses for vehicles and infrastructure.

What if the same method being used to pay for more energy-efficient buildings could also be used to get cleaner alternative fuel vehicles on the road? A new report by C2ES makes the connection between a commonly used business arrangement in the building sector and its potential use in the deployment of natural gas in public and private vehicle fleets.

A proven way to increase energy efficiency in buildings, including the iconic Empire State Building, is with the help of a business known as an energy service company (ESCO). Typically, an ESCO helps arrange financing for the building upgrade and receives compensation over time as the building owner realizes the energy savings from the efficiency improvements.

An ESCO not only facilitates access to needed capital, but also helps building owners manage the risks of using new, unfamiliar technologies. ESCOs can help building owners identify opportunities and can provide performance guarantees that give building owners assurance of future energy savings.

So, what would an ESCO for natural gas vehicles and fueling infrastructure look like? A little different than an ESCO for buildings. For example, the savings for an ESCO in buildings is often measured in units of energy while an ESCO-like arrangement for a vehicle fleet would base its savings on the differential between natural gas and gasoline/diesel prices. The savings are based on fuel consumption, which fleet managers have experience predicting.

This idea is just now being explored by the natural gas and energy service industries. Our report, part of a two-year project funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Cities Program in partnership with the National Association of State Energy Officials and others, details three case studies of ESCO-like arrangements for natural gas vehicles. These early experiences are promising, particularly for fleet managers who need turnkey solutions that can provide net savings from day one.

Among the services companies experienced with natural gas vehicles could provide to fleet managers are:

  • Identifying and evaluating project opportunities,
  • Providing performance guarantees that reduce project risk,
  • Managing the technology transition,
  • Providing alternatives to ownership of vehicles and refueling equipment,
  • Bundling vehicle projects into a broader energy project portfolio, and
  • Facilitating needed partnerships.

Applying the ESCO model to transportation projects can help break through market barriers, increase deployment of alternative fuel vehicles, and diversify the U.S. transportation fuel supply.

 

 

Energy in the News Archives

This page contains stories from the Energy in the News section that are more than three months old. For more current stories, click here.

Week of April 14, 2014

  • Keystone XL pipeline decision delayed (New York Times)
    On Friday, the Obama administration put on hold its permitting decision for the Keystone XL pipeline until after ongoing litigation in Nebraska that may ultimately affect the pipeline route is resolved.
    More from C2ES on Keystone XL pipeline
  • Global emissions growing more quickly (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change)
    According to a new report from the IPCC, global annual greenhouse gas emissions grew on average 1 gigatonne of carbon dioxide equivalent or 2.2 percent per year from 2000 to 2010, a higher rate than in each of the previous three decades. The latest report also describes, among other things, mitigation pathways – technical measures and behavioral changes – to limit global mean temperature to two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels.
    More from C2ES on IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (AR5)
  • Canada’s oil and gas sector is now largest source of GHGs (Environment Canada)
    The latest National Inventory Report from Environment Canada shows that the oil and gas sector edged out transportation to become the largest emitter of greenhouse gases in 2012. Overall, Canada’s greenhouse gases fell slightly, down 0.3 percent from 2011 levels.
    More from C2ES on oil sands
  • Carbon capture could help lower future oil sands emissions (The Globe and Mail)
    Husky Energy is partnering with CO2 Solutions to build a pilot carbon capture project at its Pike Peak South oil project in Saskatchewan. The project will use enzyme-based solutions to scrub carbon dioxide from the emissions of natural gas boilers as opposed to ammonia-based scrubbers, which it believes will lead to cost reductions.
    More from C2ES on carbon capture and storage
  • Maine leads all U.S. states in non-hydro renewable power generation (Energy Information Administration)
    In 2013, the U.S. derived 6.2 percent of its electricity generation from non-hydro renewable sources. Maine led all states by generating 32 percent of its electricity from non-hydro renewables, primarily biomass generation from the wood products industry. 11 states generated electricity from non-hydro renewables at double the U.S. average.
    More from C2ES on renewable energy
  • White papers on methane and VOC emissions offer clues to how EPA might regulate (Energywire - Subscription)
    The EPA released 5 white papers last week on potential significant sources of methane and volatile organic compounds (VOC) in the oil and gas sector, including Compressors, Emissions from completions and ongoing production at hydraulic fractured oil wells, Leaks, Liquids unloading and Pneumatic devices.
    More from C2ES on methane emissions
  • Tepco will seeks bids for new thermal power plants (Bloomberg)
    Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco), Japan’s largest utility, plans to ask for bids for up to 6 GW of new thermal generation. It did not specify which fuels the plants will use.
    More from C2ES on policies in key countries

Week of April 7, 2014

  • U.S. crude oil reserves highest in nearly 40 years (Energy Information Administration)
    For the fourth consecutive year, U.S. crude oil reserves increased. At 33 billion barrels, U.S. crude oil and leased condensate reserves were at their highest levels since 1976.
    More from C2ES on oil
  • Statoil sets target for reducing its oil sands production emissions (Bloomberg)
    Statoil plans to reduce its per barrel carbon dioxide emissions by 20 percent by 2020 (and 40 percent by 2025) using innovative technology in its in situ oil sands development.
    More from C2ES on oil sands
  • Coal’s share of electricity generation increased (Energy Information Administration)
    In 2013, coal-fired electricity generation increased nearly 5 percent from 2012 levels, while natural gas-fired generation fell a little more than 9 percent. The U.S. 2013 electricity mix was: coal (39.1 percent), natural gas (27.4 percent), nuclear (19.4 percent), hydro (6.6 percent), wind (4.1 percent), other renewables (2.1 percent), and oil (0.7 percent).
    More from C2ES on electricity
  • Revised earthquake estimates require costly analyses for nuclear reactors (New York Times)
    Following a reanalysis of the earthquake risk in the central eastern United States by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), owners of at least two dozen nuclear reactors will be required to undertake extensive analyses of plant structures and components to show that their reactors could tolerate the effects of the most severe earthquakes that they might face.
    More from C2ES on nuclear power
  • Germany reforming renewable energy laws (Reuters)
    The German government is reforming renewable energy laws in order to slow cost increases as the country moves to double its renewable energy share to 40 to 45 percent by 2025 (and 55 to 60 percent by 2035). Germany currently has some of the highest household power prices in Europe.

Week of March 31, 2014

  • Total U.S. net energy imports in 2013 lowest since 1980s (Energy Information Administration)
    Net energy imports declined 19 percent from 2012 to 2013, as increases in domestic production of oil and natural gas displaced imports and supported modest increases in petroleum product exports.
  • Canadian crude imports exceed 3 million barrels per day (Energy Information Administration)
    In 2013, Canada, the largest crude exporter to the United States, sent an average of 3.1 million barrels per day (b/d) across the border – a 6 percent increase above 2012 levels. This was more than the second (Saudi Arabia - 1.3 million b/d) and third (Mexico - 0.9 million b/d) countries combined. The United States consumed an average of 18.3 million b/d of petroleum products in 2013.
  • Energy-related carbon dioxide emissions rise (Energy Information Administration)
    In 2013, U.S. energy-related carbon dioxide emissions increased 2.3 percent from 2012 levels to 5,390 million metric tons. Sector-wide, emissions from coal (+3.9 percent), natural gas (+2.1 percent) and petroleum (+1.3 percent) increased. While natural gas use in the electric power sector decreased, its consumption increased in the industrial, residential and commercial sectors.
    More from C2ES on energy
  • Natural gas emissions from utility-owned distribution systems declining (Fierce Energy)
    A study (to be published this summer) by the American Gas Association, the Environmental Defense Fund and Washington State University found that natural gas emissions from utility-owned distribution systems have fallen by 16 percent since 1990, even as the industry increased the size of the pipeline network by 30 percent.
    More from C2ES on natural gas
  • DOE approves new standards for commercial equipment (Greenwire - Subscription)
    The Department of Energy (DOE) finalized open-air refrigerator and walk-in freezer standards that will reduce energy consumption and cut carbon dioxide emissions by 142 million metric tons from 2017 – 2046, equivalent to the annual greenhouse gas emissions of 27 million cars.
    More from C2ES on appliance and equipment energy efficiency standards
  • Sixth Chinese carbon market launches (Bloomberg)
    Last week, the central Chinese province of Hubei joined Guangdong, Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, and Shenzhen to become the country’s sixth regional carbon market; Chongqing will be the last market to launch. The pilot carbon exchanges are a precursor to a national trading system that could start as early as 2016.
    More from C2ES on policies in key countries
  • Global clean energy investment declined for the second year in a row (Pew)
    A report from The Pew Charitable Trusts founds that global clean energy investment fell 11 percent last year to $254 billion. Investment in the region of Europe, the Middle East and Africa fell to $55 billion in 2013, less than half of 2011 levels.

Week of March 24, 2014

  • Coal-fired power plant operators consider regulation compliance options (Energy Information Administration)
    As at the end of 2012, 69 percent of U.S. coal plant operators were in compliance with the EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standard (MATS), which goes into effect in April 2015. 16 percent of the fleet was undecided on whether it would retrofit or retire. Coal-fired generation was responsible for 39 percent of U.S. electricity in 2013.
    More from C2ES on coal
  • DOE gives nod to eighth LNG export facility (Greenwire - Subscription)
    The Department of Energy (DOE) conditionally approved (subject to environmental review and final regulatory approval) the Jordan Cove Energy Project to export up to 0.8 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/day) of domestically produced liquefied natural gas (LNG) from its facility in Coos Bay, Oregon.
  • Canadian government issues 4 LNG export licenses (Energywire - Subscription)
    The Canadian government issued LNG export licenses for terminals in British Columbia to Woodfibre LNG, Pacific NorthWest LNG, WCC LNG and Prince Rupert LNG for up to 73.7 million metric tons per year or around 9.8 Bcf/day.
    More from C2ES on natural gas
  • U.S. producing 10 percent of global crude (Energy Information Administration)
    Increases from the Bakken and Eagle Ford basins helped push U.S. production to more than 10 percent of the world total in the last quarter of 2013.
    More from C2ES on oil
  • New Hampshire support for Northern Pass power line rising (Energywire - Subscription)
    A high-voltage electric power line that would bring additional Canadian hydropower into the New England power market has reached a high point of support, according to pollsters at the University of New Hampshire.
    More from C2ES on electricity
  • United Kingdom’s GHG emissions decline 2 percent (The Guardian)
    Lower coal and gas consumption combined with increased wind power generation, led to a 2 percent fall in 2013 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the United Kingdom from 2012 levels. Emissions have fallen back to 2009 levels.
    More from C2ES on international emissions
  • German utility seeks approval to close reactor early (Wall Street Journal)
    E.ON SE, Germany’s largest utility, is requesting permission to shut down its 1.3 GW Grafenrheinfeld reactor as soon as May 2015, around seven months early, because the plant is marginally profitable.
    More from C2ES on nuclear power

Week of March 17, 2014

  • NRDC updates its proposal for reducing emissions from existing power plants (NRDC)
    NRDC has released an update to its December 2012 proposal for reducing emissions from existing power plants. Its new analysis finds that that 470 to 700 million tons of carbon pollution can be eliminated per year in 2020 compared to 2012 levels.
    More from C2ES on carbon pollution standards for existing power plants
  • FERC commissioner says nuclear critical to lower U.S. emissions (Greenwire - Subscription)
    In a public meeting last Thurday, FERC Commissioner John Norris expressed concern over the retirement of baseload nuclear power plants. He said that nuclear is critical to lowering emissions in the coming decades and "if we don't do something…we are letting some pretty big bridges be torn down."
    More from C2ES on nuclear power
  • Fitch report highlights market challenges for merchant generators (Reuters)
    Fitch expects, "a continuation of relatively low (wholesale) power and (natural) gas prices, as well as rising costs related to environmental regulations and modest prospective sales growth due to competitive pressures from both energy-use efficiency and renewable generation" to create challenges for merchant generators. Merchant generators, or independent power producers, sell their power into competitive wholesale markets at the prevailing market price.
    More from C2ES on electricity
  • Power market rule changes could keep nuclear plant online (Boston Business Journal)
    Independent system operator (ISO) New England is considering power market rule changes that would reward baseload generators for their round-the-clock power. If implemented, these changes could help the 688 MW Pilgrim nuclear power plant (marginally profitable) in Massachusetts remain online.
  • China's demand for solar panels increasing (Bloomberg)
    Rising domestic demand for solar panels is helping Chinese manufacturers return to profitability. China became the largest solar market in 2013, surpassing Germany, and could install more than 14 GW in 2014.
    More from C2ES on solar power

Week of March 10, 2014

  • California PUC approves natural gas as nuclear replacement (E&E News - Subscription)
    In a unanimous ruling, the California Public Utility Commission (PUC) approved the use of up to 800 MW of new natural gas-fired power plants to replace lost power from the retired San Onofre nuclear power plant. Environmental groups had pushed for replacement from only "preferred sources" – energy efficiency, renewable power, battery storage and conservation. However, the commission responded that the natural gas plants were necessary to guarantee electric system reliability. "The simple reality is that no one in the world has managed to run a complex electric grid like the one we have in Southern California" without having fossil energy for contingencies, Commissioner Mike Florio said.
  • Report: LNG exports benefit the US (NERA)
    In an update of its 2012 report to the Department of Energy, NERA finds that U.S. exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) provide net economic benefits in all scenarios and that the market for LNG is self-limiting, i.e., if domestic prices rise above current expectations then exports will be curtailed.
  • Poland proposes tax breaks for shale gas (Wall Street Journal)
    In an effort to spur development of what may be the largest technically recoverable shale gas reserves in Europe (according to the EIA), Poland is proposing tax breaks and regulatory reform for exploration.
    More from C2ES on natural gas.
  • Canadian regulators approve pipeline reversal (Energy Wire - Subscription)
    In a move that could help move oil sands crude to global markets, Canadian regulators have backed the reversal and expansion of Enbridge's Line 9 oil pipeline.
  • Iraqi oil production surging (Energy Wire - Subscription)
    Exports from the southern Iraq port of Basra have reached around 2.5 million barrels per day, a level not seen since 1979. With the pace of economic growth slowing in China and India and global oil production increasing, some analysts believe a significant price drop in 2014 is likely.
    More from C2ES on oil

Week of March 3, 2014

  • Exelon working to keep Illinois nuclear units from shuttering  (Crain’s Chicago Business)
    Exelon is working with state officials to find ways of keeping three of its six unprofitable or struggling Illinois nuclear units from closing.
    More from C2ES on nuclear power
  • Methane emissions could be cut at low cost (Climatewire - Subscription)
    A new report from ICF (commissioned by EDF) finds that 40 percent of methane emissions could be eliminated using existing technologies and at a fairly low cost; methane emissions from the oil and gas sector are projected to rise 4.5 percent from 2011 to 2018.
    More from C2ES on natural gas
  • U.S. coal production expected to rise (Cimatewire - Subscription)
    According to a report from ICF, a steady decline in U.S. coal production driven by lower natural gas prices and EPA regulations is predicted to level off, while growing global demand for coal is forecast to send even more U.S. coal abroad. Export capacity could triple in the coming years if planned terminals along the Gulf Coast and Pacific Northwest are built. Though, coal export terminals in the Northwest face strong challenges from environmental groups and local communities.
    More from C2ES on coal
  • U.S. refineries expanding capacity (New York Times)
    Increased U.S. oil production is leading oil refiners to expand refining capacity at existing facilities.
    More from C2ES on oil
  • Solar association issues year-in-review report (Solar Energy Industries Association)
    The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) reported that 29 percent of new electric generating capacity in 2013 was solar, second only to natural gas at 46 percent.
    More from C2ES on solar power
  • China’s wind power capacity increasing (Bloomberg)
    According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, China is expected to add 14.7 GW of wind power in 2014. At the end of 2013, there was more than 12 GW of wind power under construction in the United States.
    More from C2ES on wind power
  • China renews interest in nuclear power (Climatewire - Subscription)
    China is signaling that it is interested in expanding nuclear power into inland locations in its next five-year plan (2016 - 2020). According to the World Nuclear Association, China currently has 20 operational reactors and 28 under construction.
    More from C2ES on nuclear power

Week of February 24, 2014

  • EPA releases draft GHG inventory (EPA)
    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a draft version of the 2014 U.S. Greenhouse Gas Inventory report. It showed that 2012 U.S. greenhouse gas emissions are 6,501.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent, which is the lowest they have been since 1994. This is 3.3 percent below 2011 and 10.3 percent below 2005 levels.
  • CATF offers proposal for existing power plants (Reuters)
    The Clean Air Task Force (CATF) issued a plan aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants under the Clean Air Act (CAA) Section 111(d). The CATF proposal could inform emissions standards for existing power plants from the EPA, which is legally required to regulate greenhouse gases under the CAA and has been directed by President Obama to issue a proposed rule by June 1, 2014 (with a final rule due in June 2015).
    More from C2ES on existing power plant regulations
  • KXL decision could come in months (Los Angeles Times)
    Republican Governors Mary Fallin (Oklahoma), Nikki Haley (South Carolina) and others told reporters that President Obama promised them that he would weigh in with a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline within the next few months. The promise came during a private meeting with governors on Monday.
    More from C2ES on Keystone XL
  • Japanese draft energy plan calls for nuclear restart (New York Times)
    A draft energy plan by the government of Prime Minister Abe refers to nuclear power as an important “baseload” electricity source that should be part of Japan’s energy mix, although no specific target for future use of nuclear power was set.
    More from C2ES on nuclear power
  • 5. What keeps utility execs up at night? (Utility Dive)
    A survey of 500 plus (mostly investor-owned) utility executives found that their greatest pressing challenge was ageing infrastructure; the current regulatory model, an ageing workforce, distributed generation and flat demand growth, rounded out the top 5 list.
    More from C2ES on electricity

Week of February 17, 2014

  • Utilities pursuing ‘back-to-basics’ strategy (Utility Dive)
    Utilities like FirstEnergy, Duke, Dominion Power, and Ameren are increasingly pulling out of unregulated operations, where a combination of factors, including low natural gas prices and weak demand for electricity (driven by a soft economy, energy efficiency mandates, and demand response initiatives) have driven down wholesale prices and reduced margins.
  • MISO survey forecasts decrease in electricity demand (Energy Wire - Subscription)
    The most recent Organization of MISO States (OMS) survey indicates a -0.75 percent annual growth rate (2014 – 2016) of electricity demand in its north and central regions. If the forecast holds, it would reduce a potential generation shortfall from 8.5 to 2 GW below the system’s 2016 reliability margin requirement. The Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) administers a wholesale electricity market covering 15 states (from Minnesota to Louisiana) and one Canadian province.
  • Nebraska ruling could delay KXL (Reuters)
    A Nebraska court invalidated a law passed in 2011, allowing Gov. Dave Heineman to approve the route for the Keystone XL pipeline through the state. The judge said that the Nebraska Public Service Commission is the proper state agency to decide pipeline matters. The governor has filed an appeal. An anonymous State Department source said Friday that the agency is continuing to review the application at this time and monitoring events in Nebraska.
    More from C2ES on Keystone XL
  • Natural gas prices hit 5-year high (CNBC)
    Low storage levels and a forecast of continued cold weather into March sent NYMEX March natural gas futures above $6/MMBtu.

Week of February 11, 2014

  • DOE approves 6th LNG application (Green Wire - Subscription)
    Cameron LNG has received conditional (pending environmental and regulatory review) approval from the Department of Energy to export up to 1.7 billion cubic feet (Bcf) per day of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from its Louisiana facility. Other facilities recently approved for export include: Lake Charles Exports (2 Bcf), Sabine Pass (2.2 Bcf), Freeport (2 applications, 1.8 Bcf), and Cove Point (0.77 Bcf); the maximum total of future U.S. LNG exports now stands at 8.47 Bcf/day or just over 3 Tcf/year. In 2012, the United States consumed 25.5 Tcf of natural gas.
  • EPA may underestimate methane emissions (Climate Wire - Subscription)
    A new synthesis report by researchers from Stanford, MIT, University of Michigan and others, indicates that methane emissions are 1.25 to 1.75 times higher than reported by the EPA. Notably, the researchers conclude that emissions from fracking are not the main culprit, and overall emissions are likely driven by a few “super-emitters” in the oil and gas sector. In spite of the higher emissions, the research found that switching from coal to natural gas in the power sector offers robust climate benefits, while substitution of diesel or gasoline with natural gas in the transport sector may not.
    More from C2ES on natural gas
  • First US offshore wind project in sight (Climate Wire - Subscription)
    A 30 MW offshore wind project (using five 6 MW Alstom turbines) could be generating power as early as 2016. The project will be located about 17 miles south of Rhode Island, near Block Island.
  • Germany switching from gas to coal (Wall Street Journal)
    By 2015, 10 GW of natural gas-fired power plants are expected to be taken down in Germany and replaced by 7 GW of coal. In 2011, 75 GW of installed fossil generation delivered 60 percent of Germany’s electricity.
  • Oregon issues permits for coal export terminal (Portland Business Journal)
    The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality issued three permits for the Morrow Pacific coal project, which proposes to export “low-sulfur coal from the U.S. Intermountain region to trade allies such as Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.” Additional state permits and approval from the Army Corps of Engineers are required before the project can be developed.
  • EIA projects more coal power plant retirements (Energy Information Administration)
    In its Annual Energy Outlook 2014 Reference Case, the EIA expects an additional 16 GW or so of coal plant retirements above what operators have already stated (40 GW) by 2016.
    More from C2ES on coal

Week of February 3, 2014

  • Some Exelon reactors unprofitable (Seeking Alpha)
    On a conference call, Exelon CEO Chris Crane informed analysts and investors that some of its ten nuclear power plants were not profitable, and it will consider shutting down units (by the end of the year) if it does not “see a path to sustainable profits.”
  • Nuclear operators express concerns (Green Wire - Subscription)
    At an energy conference last week, nuclear operators Exelon and Entergy expressed their concern about the viability of older, single reactors throughout the Northeast, which face challenges from cheap natural gas, high operating costs, new regulatory expenses following the Fukushima disaster, and competition from other subsidized generation like wind and solar.
    More from C2ES on nuclear energy
  • Two Bakken pipelines won’t move ahead (Inforum)
    Two proposed pipeline projects will not move ahead due to lack of interest, driven in part by the availability of flexible crude-by-rail shipping, and uncertainty around Keystone XL development among other things.
    More from C2ES on Keystone XL
  • UK GHG emissions rise (Reuters)
    According to government data for 2012, greenhouse gas emissions in the United Kingdom rose by 3.2 percent. In 2012, coal overtook natural gas as the nation’s largest source for electricity generation. Additionally, a colder than average winter contributed to the emissions rise.
    More from C2ES on international emissions
  • Japan’s LNG imports hit a record (Reuters)
    Japan’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports hit a record high in 2013. The shutdown of the country’s nuclear power plants following the Fukushima disaster in 2011 has forced the country to increase its reliance on fossil fuels for electric power generation.
    More from C2ES on key country policies
  • Poland announces nuclear plans (Economist)
    Poland, which currently gets more than 80 percent of its electricity from coal-fired power plants, announced plans to build its first nuclear reactor – expected to be up and running by 2024.
    More from C2ES on international emissions

Week of January 27, 2013

  • State Department issues final environmental impact statement on KXL (State Department)
    The State Department released a final environmental impact statement (EIS) on the Keystone XL pipeline on Friday. “The range of incremental greenhouse gas emissions for crude oil that would be transported by the proposed Project [was] estimated to be 1.3 to 27.4 MMTCO2e annually.” This represents 0.02 to 0.4 percent of  total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions (2011). The EIS release initiates a 30-day "national interest determination" comment period (February 5 to March 7) during which State seeks feedback from the public, interested parties and other federal agencies.
    More from C2ES on Keystone XL
  • FERC issues energy infrastructure update (FERC Report) According to FERC’s energy infrastructure update 14.2 GW of new electric capacity was added in 2013, down from 29.7 GW in 2012. Natural gas-fired generation made up 51 percent of the additions, followed by solar (21 percent), coal (11 percent), wind (8 percent), biomass (5 percent) and hydro (3 percent). Notably, new wind installations were down by more than 90 percent in 2013; however, there are currently more than 12 GW under construction – a record high.
    More from C2ES on electricity
  • Proposal aims to reduce Bakken flaring (Energy Wire - Subscription)
    The North Dakota Petroleum Council has put forth a proposal to reduce the amount of wasted natural gas from the Bakken formation. Data from November 2013 indicated that 29 percent of natural gas produced statewide is flared. Through various measures, the proposal aims to capture 90 – 95 percent of the gas in pipelines by 2020.
    More from C2ES on natural gas
  • Republicans push natural gas pipeline bill (Green Wire - Subscription)
    Seizing upon President Obama’s State of the Union support for natural gas, House Republicans suggested in a letter to the President that this might be an area where there is “potential for agreement” between the Administration and Congress. Last year, House Republicans passed a bill designed to cut red tape for natural gas pipeline permitting.
    More from C2ES on State of the Union
  • New York State fracking moratorium to continue (Bloomberg)
    New York’s environmental commissioner announced last week that a moratorium on the practice of hydraulic fracturing will continue until at least April 2015.
    More from C2ES on natural gas
  • Crude oil price spread narrows (Bloomberg)
    The crude oil price spread between West Texas Intermediate (U.S. benchmark) and Brent (global benchmark) fell below $10 per barrel last week. The opening of the southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline, which is currently transporting around 288,000 barrels per day to the Gulf Coast, is easing a supply glut in Cushing, Oklahoma. TransCanada, the pipeline operator, plans to increase flows this year toward its 700,000 barrel per day maximum.
  • South Korea approves new reactors (Bloomberg)
    South Korea has approved construction of two 1,400 MW nuclear reactors, its first since the Fukushima disaster. It currently has 23 reactors with plans to build another 11. South Korea gets around one-third of its power from nuclear energy, and is aiming to increase this to 50 percent.
    More from C2ES on nuclear power

Week of January 20, 2013

  • Natural gas prices soar again (Market Watch)
    Increased demand from the latest winter storm and cold weather outbreak sent natural gas prices to record highs again in New England – spot prices averaged nearly $80/MMBtu on the Intercontinental Exchange for some locations. The region’s gas-fired electricity generating capacity has grown, while pipeline and storage capacity has not. The expectation of continued cold weather into February, sent the benchmark (Henry Hub) natural gas price above $5/MMBtu for the first time since June 2010.
    More from C2ES on natural gas
  • DOE Quadrennial Energy Review to focus on infrastructure  (Greenwire - Subscription)
    The Department of Energy’s (DOE) first Quadrennial Energy Review (QER), due by January 31, 2015, will focus on energy transmission and distribution infrastructure issues, including wires, pipelines, rail, and import/export terminals.
    More from C2ES on electricity
  • EU plans to cut emissions 40 percent (Bloomberg)
    The 28-nation European Union (EU-28) announced plans to cut its greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. In 2011, EU-27 GHG emissions fell 3.3 percent from 2010 levels; they are currently 18.4 percent below 1990 levels.
  • Advanced meter market penetration rising (FERC Report)
    A recent report by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) estimates that advanced (electricity) meter penetration rates may now exceed 30 percent of total meters deployed, up from around 5 percent in 2008. Advanced meters allow utilities to restore power more quickly after outages, as well as offer time-based rates and demand response programs. Additionally, they help consumers to better understand their energy consumption, among other things.
    More from C2ES on the smart grid

 Week of January 13, 2013

  • U.S. energy-Related CO2 emissions rising (EIA.gov)
    Preliminary data for 2013 indicates that U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions were around 2 percent higher than in 2012, as coal regained some market share. However, since 2005 energy-related emissions are down a little more than 10 percent. According to EIA’s short-term energy outlook, energy-related CO2 emissions are projected to increase around 0.5 percent by 2015, which would leave energy-related emission down slightly less than 10 percent from 2005 levels. According to EIA’s annual energy outlook 2014 reference case, energy-related CO2 emissions are projected to be 8.7 percent below 2005 levels in 2020.
  • Carbon capture projects receive funding (PDF from Energy.gov)
    Lake Charles Clean Energy (LCCE) has been awarded cost-share funding of $261.4 million from the DOE for a Louisiana plant that will convert petroleum coke, a refinery byproduct that is more than 90 percent carbon, to hydrogen gas, methanol and other products. Around 89 percent of the carbon dioxide will be captured and piped to the West Hastings oil field for EOR. Plant construction is expected to take around 3 years.
    DOE approved $1 billion for FutureGen 2.0, an Illinois coal plant retrofit (168 MW) that will capture more than 90 percent of its carbon dioxide emissions and pipe them into an underground storage facility about 30 miles from the plant (notably, not for EOR).
  • What is next for the Keystone XL permit process (Financial Post)
    The State Department is expected to release a final environmental impact statement (EIS) on the Keystone XL pipeline soon after Obama's January 28 State of the Union address. The EIS release will initiate a "national interest determination" process during which State is obliged to seek feedback from other interested agencies.
  • Alaska natural gas pipeline moving forward (Energy Wire, subscription required)
    Alaska, ExxonMobil, BP, ConocoPhilips and TransCanada signed a preliminary agreement last week to build a natural gas pipeline from the North Slope to an export facility on the state’s southern coast.
  • Canada reports to the UN on its emissions (Climatewire, subscription required)
    In a report to the UN, Canada’s carbon emissions are projected to be 11 percent above 2005 levels by 2030, mostly due to increasing oil sands projects. Last fall, Environment Canada found that emissions in 2020 would likely be 3 percent lower than 2005 levels when LULUCF (land use, land-use change and forestry) is included.

Week of January 6, 2014

  • Oil Prices fall as output rises (Bloomberg News)
    U.S. crude prices fell to an 8-month low ($91.66 a barrel) last week on rising output, ample supply and reduced fuel consumption. Also last week, the global (Brent) price was trading at around $106 a barrel.
  • Report details natural gas emissions intensity (NOAA Report)
    A new report from NOAA found that (in 2012) natural gas combined cycle power plants  emitted (890lb CO2/MWh) on average 44 percent of the CO2 compared with coal power plants (~2,024lb CO2/MWh). Data from EPA’s continuous emissions monitoring system (CEMS) was used for the analysis. Over the past 15 years, the CO2 emission intensity of natural gas combined cycle power plants has decreased by about one-third. The average emission rate from all forms of natural gas-fired power generation is 1,135lb CO2/MWh.
  • Cold snap spurs record natural gas demand (Marketwatch)
    U.S. natural gas demand reached a record high of 134.3 billion cubic feet/day on Tuesday January 7, as consumers heating demand increased and utilities increased usage for electric power generation on one of the coldest days in years. Day-ahead natural gas spot prices in New England spiked to over $50/MMBtu for a time on Monday in anticipation of the coming cold wave.
  • Utility Mergers Ahead? (E&E News, subscription required)
    Duke CEO Lynn Good expects to see continued consolidation in the utility sector in the face of a slowing rise in electricity demand.
  • DOE awards projects for Small Modular Reactors (SMR) (E&E News, subscription required)
    NuScale Power (Oregon) has been selected to received up to $226 million in DOE funding over the next 5 years for development of its 45 MW SMR. In 2012, Babcock & Wilcox (Tennessee) received a similar amount of funding for its 180 MW mPower design. Commercialization of these small reactors is not expected for at least another 10 years.
  • Nebraska nuclear plant restarts (Omaha World Herald)
    After nearly 3 years offline and $177 million spent on recommissioning by the Omaha Public Power District, Ft Calhoun nuclear power plant (563 MW) returned to service last month after getting the green light from the NRC.
  • Big money backs energy storage (Greentech Grid)
    Aquion Energy, a developer and manufacturer of sodium ion batteries, attracted a slew of high profile investors in 2013 including Bill Gates. The Western Pennsylvania company will commercially launch its range (off-grid to grid-scale) of energy storage products in early 2014.

 Week of December 31, 2013

  • Kerry backs 17 percent emissions reduction (E&E News, subscription required)
    In the State Department’s 2014 Climate Action Report, Secretary Kerry stated that the U.S. Copenhagen Accord (2009) pledge of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 is “ambitious but achievable.” Kerry notes that U.S. emissions have already fallen by 6.5 percent since 2005 as a result of “economic factors and government policies.”
  • EIA report details declining electricity sales (eia.gov)
    According to EIA data, total U.S. electricity sales have decreased in four of the past five years (2008 – 2012) due to a variety of factors, including a declining industrial sector, weather pattern shifts, efficiency improvements, and growth in distributed generation. The early release of its Annual Energy Outlook 2014 predicts flat electricity use through 2015. Average household power usage in 2013 has fallen to 2001 levels. The decline is attributed to more energy efficient housing, appliances and gadgets.
  • Trans Mountain oil sands pipeline could expand (E&E News, subscription required)
    Kinder Morgan formally applied to the Canadian Government to expand the capacity of its Trans Mountain pipeline from Alberta to British Columbia (Vancouver). It hopes to complete the project by 2017, but faces opposition from First Nations and environmental groups.
  • Shell explores use of LNG trucks (E&E News, subscription required)
    In an attempt to reduce its oil sands emissions profile, Shell is looking into using trucks that run on LNG.
  • Chinese pilot emissions trading schemes (E&E News, subscription required)
    There are now 5 trading schemes operating in China: Tianjin, Shenzhen, Shanghai, Beijing and Guangdong province.
  • Australia unveils Emission Reduction Fund (The Australian)
    Australia released some details on its $1.34 billion fund to cut carbon emissions. The fund will replace a carbon tax the government expects to formally repeal in July 2014.

 

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