EIA: - Smart Energy Decisions

GHG Emissions, Industrial, Regulation, Utilities  -  February 1, 2017

Power sector emissions drop below transportation's

Image source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Monthly Energy Review

The power sector has reduced its carbon dioxide emissions such that they are now regularly below those from the transportation sector, according to new information from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. 

In a recent blog post, the EIA said this is the first time the automotive sector has surpassed the emissions of the power sector since the 1970s. The government agency said transportation sector CO2 emissions reached 1,893 million metric tons from October 2015 through September 2016, exceeding the 1,803 million metric tons from the power sector over the same period. 

CO2 emissions from electric power have been trending lower since 2007, according to the agency. The power sector makes up a larger share of total energy consumption than the transportation sector, though its overall reduction in carbon intensity in recent years has, according to the EIA, fallen a lot faster than the carbon intensity of the transportation sector. 

Emissions from the electric power sector are primarily from coal-fired and natural gas-fired electric generators, while emissions from the transportation sector are primarily from motor gasoline, distillate fuel oil, and jet fuel, which have carbon intensities lower than coal but higher than natural gas. 

The EIA wrote:

In the 12 months from October 2015 through September 2016, coal and natural gas had nearly equal shares of electric power generation in the United States: 31% and 34%, respectively. However, their shares of electric power sector emissions were 61% and 31%, respectively, as coal is much more carbon-intensive. Overall electric power carbon intensity has also decreased as generation share of non-carbon-emitting fuels such as nuclear, hydropower, wind, and solar has grown.

Keywords: eia

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