Carbon Emission Levels Reach 20-year Low in United States

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According to a recent short-term energy forecast by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (“BNEF”), electricity-related carbon emissions in the United States are decreasing to their lowest levels since 1994. This decrease is largely due to the utilities’ shift from coal to natural gas, solar, and wind.

The BNEF report forecasts that power plants are likely to burn natural gas at a record rate in 2015 and that the power grid will add a record amount of solar energy. Also, the BNEF report forecasts that cheaper gas prices and stricter environmental regulations will likely lead to a continued decline in coal plant production.

As a result of this shift, the BNEF forecast predicts that the power generation emissions blamed for global warming will actually decrease to 15 percent below 2005 levels. The BNEF forecast further predicts that if the data is viewed on an emissions rate basis, “2015 will be the cleanest year in over 60 years for which we have historical data.”

Carbon emissions will continue to decrease as power plants continue to increase their natural gas use. William Nelson, head of North American analysis at BNEF, made the following assessment in the BNEF report: “In 2015, we’ll take a giant, permanent step toward decarbonizing our entire fleet of power plants.”

The BNEF report recognizes that renewables such as wind and solar will continue to contribute to the decrease in carbon emissions. But the BNEF report also projects that natural gas will remain economically ideal long term thanks to an abundant supply and expected continued low prices. Specifically, the BNEF report forecasts a 14 gigawatt natural gas build in 2015 and that this upward trend will continue well into the future.

You can review BNEF's short-term energy forecast on their website.

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