An American comparative study reflects decarbonization efforts: Energy & Environment


July 21, 2021

Carbon dioxide emissions from the top 100 power producers in the United States fell 10% between 2019 and 2020, according to the latest in a series of comparative studies dating back to 1997. Nuclear accounted for more than half zero carbon resources which together generated around 38%. electricity in 2020.

(Image: Entergy)

Benchmarking Air Emissions of the Top 100 Power Producers in the United States is a collaborative effort between the non-profit organization Ceres; Bank of America; the power producers Entergy and Exelon; and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). It is written by MJ Bradley & Associates. The latest report is the 17th in a series that uses published data to compare the emissions performance of the top 100 power producers in the United States. Together, they represent more than 80% of the sector’s electricity production and declared air emissions.

The decrease in CO2 emissions from the power sector is the largest year-over-year decline since the report was first published in 1997, and CO2 emissions from power plants in 2020 were about 40% lower. % at their 2007 peak. The coronavirus pandemic may have contributed to factor in the 2020 figures, the authors said, but the long-term trend has been driven by factors such as improved efficiency energy and the displacement of coal by natural gas and renewable energy resources.

For the fifth consecutive year, natural gas was the primary source of electricity production in the United States, accounting for 40% of production, followed by nuclear (20%). Zero-carbon resources together generated about 38% of America’s electricity, a record high. Nuclear provided 52% of the combined production of zero carbon electricity, renewables 29% and hydropower 19%.

Dan Bakal, Ceres senior director for electric power, said the pace of decarbonization is accelerating as renewables come online to replace fossil fuels. “The growth of renewables has allowed us to separate economic growth from emissions, and this year represents one of the most dramatic decoupling points we’ve seen,” he said.

The share of clean electricity in the US production mix will have to at least double by 2030 to meet the targets set by the current US administration of 80% carbon-free energy by 2030 and 100% by 2035, Starla Yeh, Group Policy Analysis Director in the Climate & Clean Energy program at NRDC, said. “Now is the time for the Biden administration to act. It can accelerate this progress by setting a performance standard – through new legislation or EPA action,” Yeh said.

John Weiss, Entergy’s vice president of sustainability and environmental policy, said the company is entering its third decade of voluntary emissions reduction commitments, but recognizes that there is still work to be done. “As an organization, we are focused on reducing the carbon footprint of our power generation portfolio, both by ensuring the continued and safe operation of our carbon-free nuclear fleet and by significantly expanding our assets. renewable energy production, ”he said. “The report is an essential resource because it allows all of our stakeholders to accurately track and hold us accountable for changes in our emissions performance.”

Kathleen Barron, executive vice president of government and regulatory affairs and public policy at Exelon, said the report is an important measure of progress in tackling climate change by investing in renewable energy and existing nuclear resources. carbon free. “As the largest producer of zero-emission electricity in the country, we believe it is essential that policymakers and power companies work together to ensure that competitive electricity markets recognize the value of sources. new and existing clean energy that are essential to tackle the climate crisis and reduce the health impacts of air pollution, which disproportionately affect underserved communities, ”she said.

Research and writing by World Nuclear News

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