The US power industry has been making steady progress reducing greenhouse gas emissions, with power sector carbon dioxide emissions decreasing about 10% between 2019 and 2020 because of a mixture of pandemic impacts, energy efficiency and fuel switching away from coal, a July 20 report said. This year’s report, which has been prepared since 1997, highlighted several “dramatic shifts,” as the share of power produced by non-hydro renewables increased 20% from 2019 levels and the share from coal-fired generation decreased by roughly 17%, the statement said. To learn more, read “US reducing power sector CO2 emissions while growing economy: study.”

Key Takeaways:

  • An S&P Global Platts analysis earlier this year showed the US now has at least 20 states, plus the District of Columbia, with aggressive plans in the works for 100% renewable power, carbon-free power or net-zero emissions, roughly double the number from a year ago, while 12 states have not initiated any clean energy plans.
  • The 100 largest power producers in the US own nearly 3,500 power plants and account for more than 80% of the sector’s power generation and reported air emissions, according to the benchmarking report, which relies on data from state agencies, along with the US Environmental Protection Agency and US Energy Information Administration.
  • The top five producers of zero-carbon power in 2019 were Exelon, NextEra Energy, Duke Energy, Tennessee Valley Authority and Entergy.
  • The top five generators with the lowest CO2 emissions rates in 2019 were Exelon, Public Service Enterprise Group, NextEra Energy, Entergy, and Dominion Energy, according to the report.
  • Facilities in Texas produced 483 million MWh compared with just 42 million MWh in Wyoming, but only about 19% of the power produced in Texas comes from coal, compared with 83.9% in Wyoming, he added.

Path to 100% Perspective: 

State, provincial, municipal and in some cases national governments are declaring mandatory targets for 100% clean power. These regulatory targets are often considered renewable mandates as it is commonly understood that wind, solar, hydro and other renewable energy sources are needed to replace fossil-fuel power plants in a zero-carbon emissions future. According to the UCLA Luskin Center For Innovation November 2019 report of the Progress Toward 100% Clean Energy in Cities and States Across the U.S., a growing number of investor owned utilities are making 100% commitments, whether the states they supply energy to mandate the requirement or not. This private-public commitment to decarbonization is continuing to build momentum toward a renewable energy future.