Itís become something of a clichť in energy-policy discussions: The United States is making headway on global warming and slashing its carbon-dioxide emissions all because of a glut of cheap natural gas thatís elbowing out dirtier coal power.
These guys also want credit. (AES)
But perhaps that natural-gas story is overly simplistic. A notable new analysis by Trevor Houser and Shashank Mohan of the Rhodium Group suggests that Americaís budding renewable-energy sector ó particularly wind power and biomass ó deserves a big chunk of the credit for driving down U.S. emissions. On the flip side, the report also suggests that coal could soon make a comeback.
Houser and Mohan take a novel approach to analyzing the recent drop in carbon pollution. They start by noting that at the end of 2012, U.S. carbon emissions were about 13 percent below 2005 levels. They then tried to tease out the causes of this drop by constructing a counter-factual ó what would have happened if energy trends from the 1990s and early 2000s had continued apace?
That led them to this graph, which separates out the causes of the recent decline in emissions. (On the far left is what emissions were projected to be based on 1990-2005 trends. On the far right is what emissions actually were.)
The recession and financial crisis, obviously, made a big difference. A weaker economy has meant less demand for energy ó that was responsible for more than half the drop compared with business as usual.
1. natural gas is 85% methane, 105 times worse than CO2.. leaks from wells
Methane (CH4) (about 85% of natural gas) is 105 times worse than CO2 as a greenhouse gas (GHG) on a 20 year time frame. it leaks from active well heads at about 8% and so old capped wells., it also vents from old existing water wells, and other sources. we are facing the worst environmental disaster yet from fracking.
there has never been a real environmental study don on Fracking... I wonder why.?