It’s been 60 years in the making and it’s finally here: America’s power generation fleet has changed so much since the 1950s, and especially over the last decade, that the amount of carbon we emit per megawatt-hour of electricity produced has dropped to its lowest point in recorded history.
In fact, 2015 could be the cleanest ever for our power industry, according to a recent report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Two major developments have driven this change:
- Renewable energy projects are skyrocketing.
Based on confirmed contracts, renewable energy will hit a record 18.3 gigawatt of new build in 2015. Of that, 9.1 gigawatts will come from solar (an all-time high) and 8.9 gigawatt from wind (third-most ever).
By the end of 2014, renewables (not including hydro power) accounted for 7 percent of electricity generated in the United States. Solar and wind, alone, are expected to account for 60 percent of new capacity in 2015. Read More
Methane emissions from the US oil and gas sector increased, according to new data finalized today by the Environmental Protection Agency. Sadly, the figures come as no surprise, based on preliminary numbers and plenty of other observations, both scientific and anecdotal. No surprise unless you’re part of the industry’s public relations machine, which keeps insisting that up means down.
What is legitimately surprising is that this problem continues in spite of the many simple, proven and cost effective ways there are to fix it. And therein lies opportunity. Read More
On April 8, InsideClimate News published an in-depth story about Environmental Defense Fund’s groundbreaking work to measure emissions of methane.
While we don’t agree with everything in the story, we’re glad it recognizes the scope, ambition and scientific integrity of our work. As InsideClimate News concludes:
Environmental groups almost never take on scientific research efforts. Investigations on this scale are normally organized by the federal government or the National Academy of Sciences. Coordinating what’s become an $18 million series of 16 studies by more than 100 researchers has turned EDF into a heavyweight on the science of methane pollution.
The project’s findings will influence government policy concerning the $292 billion-a-year U.S. oil and gas extraction industry and the regulation of fracking…[And] environmentalists acknowledge that EDF has managed to pass some of the nation’s strictest regulations where others have failed.
InsideClimate News interviewed 40 scientists, activists, academics and industry representatives – more than half of whom aren’t involved with the EDF research. This group included 15 methane researchers. None of them said they thought the industry was manipulating EDF’s research results or pressuring scientists to change their data.
But the story also gets some important things wrong, on issues the reporters never asked us about.
We’d like to offer corrections on those points, which we have raised directly with the editors, along with some additional perspective on this important story about methane – a potent greenhouse gas and main component of natural gas. Read More
Last month, I attended the Vail Global Energy Forum in Colorado. Billed as a “mini-Davos” of energy (studiously ignoring the Aspen crowd a few hours down the highway), that moniker may have felt aspirational when the conference launched three years ago. But, this year it paid off: momentum for frank dialogue and global innovation is building on the slopes of the Vail Valley.
Here’s my take on how the clean air of the mountains cuts through the hot air of energy debates to illuminate practical, actionable ideas.
Three big ideas drove the conference:
- North American energy independence
Mexico, the United States, and Canada could, together, innovate their way to an energy marketplace that weakens dependence on overseas imports, scales up clean energy solutions, and charts a path to low-carbon prosperity. At times, the discussion was framed by the rise of unconventional oil and gas exploration (yes, “fracking”), collaboration around pipelines (yes, “Keystone”), and whether these could disrupt traditional geopolitical frames. Read More
Also posted in Air Quality, California, Cap and Trade, Clean Energy, Climate, Colorado, Energy Efficiency, Energy Financing, Methane, New York, Utility Business Models
The most important takeaway from a study released today by Washington State University (WSU) is that despite improvements, large amounts of methane continue to leak from the nation's local natural gas systems. Because methane is a particularly potent greenhouse gas, these yearly emissions are comparable to the CO2 from as many as 19 coal-fired power plants.
The estimated value of the gas escaping each year, by the way, is up to $195 million.
Although these figures represent a major ongoing challenge for gas utilities, they do reflect substantial improvement over the past two decades, thanks to a combination of effort and investment by utilities, along with a series of both state and federal policy changes enacted since 1992.
The new findings reinforce the fact that when regulators and companies both set their minds to fixing a problem, they can get some pretty good results. Methane, the primary component of natural gas, is a particularly powerful climate warmer – 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide over the first 20 years after it is released to the atmosphere.
While they remain a serious problem, the ongoing utility emissions also represent an important opportunity for companies and regulators to make a big dent in greenhouse pollution. EDF believes the study underscores three major areas where improvement is necessary: Read More
Oil and gas companies spend a lot of time and money reminding us just how much good they’re doing in the world. But according to a new Gallup poll released yesterday, when it comes to fracking, the American people aren’t convinced.
Production is booming and prices are the lowest in decades, due in large measure to fracking and a suite of other technological innovations that have led a revolution in production from ‘unconventional’ sources of oil and gas in the U.S. In particular, the rapid increase in natural gas production is providing a boon to consumers and helping to reduce our dependence on coal, which in turn has helped reduce carbon dioxide and other pollution.
And yet the new poll shows that just 60 percent of Americans surveyed are either opposed or undecided about fracking.
Why? Read More