A coal-fired power plant in West Virginia 37

Since 2015, the rate of decline in carbon and other climate-altering emissions has been slowing and looks now to have emphatically jumped from a reduction to an increase.

According to the research, coal power plant closures will likely reach record levels in 2018. “Natural gas not only replaced most of the lost coal generation but also fed the vast majority of the load growth last year,” the report says.

Combined with gas closures, a total of 14.6GW of fossil fuel power generation went offline. That is compared to 14.9GW of new gas power capacity added across the country. The firm has solar additions at 5.7GW. The long-running WoodMac report estimates 2018 solar capacity additions, at all scales, at 11.1GW at the time of writing.

Emissions in the U.S. grew in all sectors in 2018. RHODIUM CLIMATE SERVICES

Rhodium refers to buildings and industry as “the forgotten sectors”. We estimate that direct emissions from residential and commercial buildings (from sources such as fuel oil, diesel and natural gas combusted on site for heating and cooking) increased by 10% in 2018 to their highest level since 2004. Off the back of a cold winter, the number of days requiring space heating jumped 15% for the calendar year.

The power sector is responsible for 28% of U.S. emissions, according to EPA date for 2016. The current contribution from renewable energy in the US is around 17% with 7% of that coming from hydropower. The notion that a higher penetration of renewables would be detrimental to the grid has been blown out the water by Germany, the world’s fifth largest economy. New research published by the Fraunhofer Institute since the turn of the year showed that renewables contributed more than 40% of the country’s electricity 2018. Coal was responsible for just 38%.

To meet its commitments as set out in the Paris climate agreement, a 26-28% reduction from 2005 levels by 2025 is required. When U.S. emissions are considered in full, the gap between those commitments and reality is growing.

I am the head of content at Solar Media, a publishing and events company rooted in solar, energy storage and the technologies and business models driving us towards low carbon power. I oversee our flagship solar energy news site PV-Tech.org. I have spent the majority of my career covering climate change politics, clean tech manufacturing, investment and the companies delivering our future power systems.

By John Parnell

Jan 8, 2019, 03:42pm

Published by Forbes 

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