Energy-Related CO2 Emissions Decline Again: Thank Fracking!

Tom Shepstone
Shepstone Management Company, Inc.

Energy-related CO2 emissions have declined yet again, according to the EIA, and natural gas used for electricity is still the primary reason.

It’s getting to be old news now, but the continued decline of energy-related CO2 emissions as electricity is increasingly generated by natural gas continues. It’s a great story that deserves retelling with regularity because fracking—yes fracking—has made it possible. Indeed, overall energy-related CO2 emissions fell by 2.6% in 2019 and electric sector emissions fell by 8.1% last year.

energy-related CO2 emissionsLook at blue line; it’s been trending steadily down, more or less, since 2007, when fracking arrived on the scene and took a particularly steep dive in 2019. Here are some of the facts from EIA’s Today In Energy post from yesterday:

  • After rising by 3% in 2018, energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions fell 3% in the United States in 2019. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) U.S. Energy-Related Carbon Dioxide Emissions, 2019 analysis, total energy-related CO2 emissions in 2019 were about 150 million metric tons (MMmt) lower than their 2018 level. EIA attributes nearly all (96%) of this decline to the changing mix of fuels used to generate electricity.
  • The electric power sector accounted for nearly one-third of U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions in 2019; only the transportation sector emitted more CO2. Within the electric power sector, emissions from coal fell by 15% (177 MMmt) in 2019.
  • U.S. electric power sector emissions have fallen 33% from their peak in 2007 because less electricity has been generated from coal and more electricity has been generated from natural gas (which emits less CO2 when combusted) and non-carbon sources. U.S. total energy-related CO2 emissions have fallen 15% since their 2007 peak.
  • Changes in the composition of electricity generation, as well as improvements in energy efficiency, have led to a decrease in the total carbon intensity of electricity, which has fallen from 619 metric tons per megawatthour (mt/MWh) in 2005 to 408 mt/MWh in 2019.

Yes, there have been other factors, including growth in solar and wind generation, but the big gorilla when it comes to reducing CO2 emissions has been the substitution of natural gas for coal. And, that’s happened thanks to fracking, which is something fractivists are eager to avoid, deny and trash. Now, just imagine what will happen as carbon-capture comes on line. It’s real, it’s coming fast and it will make natural gas far superior to any renewable energy source, rendering the latter as a silly failed experiment.

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2 thoughts on “Energy-Related CO2 Emissions Decline Again: Thank Fracking!

  1. “Now, just imagine what will happen as carbon-capture comes on line. It’s real, it’s coming fast and it will make natural gas far superior to any renewable energy source, rendering the latter as a silly failed experiment.”

    CCS is already here, at least the S in CCS. That has been around for decades, just look at Norway. Now, capture and an entire valuechain withing CCS is something different. Saskpower BD3 has been operations for quite some time, and that has a Target of 65% kr max capacity (which is NOT equal to 65% of CO2 released

    CCS Norway (https://ccsnorway.com/costs/) estimates a full scale project at ~1000 NOK/metric ton with quite a difference between the P50 and the P85. That is however expected. CCGT emits around 499 g CO2e / kWh (https://gridwatch.co.uk/co2-emissions), which would put it at 0,499 NOK/kWh for CCS. With current NOK/USD = 9,03 that is 0,055 USD/kWh.

    CCS Norway expects the future costs to be below of 700 NOK / metric ton, i.e 0,0387 USD/kWh

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