Friday, October 25, 2013

Thanks to Natural Gas and Climate Change, U.S. Carbon Dioxide Emissions Continue Downward Trend | Cato @ Liberty

The big player in 2012 was the continued switch from coal to natural gas for electrical generation. It is generally accepted that gas-fired generation results in about half as much carbon dioxide emissions per kilowatt-hour as coal-fired.
While some would glibly say this is a result of increased regulation of greenhouse gases, it's much more just good-old economics and the profit motive that are responsible. Hydraulic fracturing, horizontal drilling, and inherently less expensive physical plants mean it is cheaper to produce electrical power from gas than from coal.  In fact, as the figure below shows, there's been pretty much a one-for-one switch between the two sources, with coal-fired down by 215 billion kilowatt-hours (kwh) and gas up by 212.
Despite the fact that "renewable" electricity generation declined in 2012, carbon dioxide emissions per kwh still went down, by 3.5 percent, thanks to the overwhelming effect of natural gas substitution.

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