Emission Trends for Power Plants

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Reported emissions from The Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program (GHGRP) emissions reported by the power plants sector decreased significantly from 2011 to 20202021, from 2,222 million metric tons (MMT) CO2e in 2011 to 1,495 589 MMT CO2e in 20202021, a decrease of 32.7%. Reported emissions for 2020 declined by 10.4% from 2019. This 28.5%. This overall decrease in emissions resulted from both decreased demand for electrical generation in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and longer-term trends related to changes in the composition of fuels used in electricity generation and an increase in renewable electricity generation. Reported emissions for 2021 increased by 6.3% from 2020. The annual increase in emissions observed in 2021 resulted from the increased demand for electricity generation during 2021 as the economy recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic.

From 2011 through 20202021, national net generation of electricity remained fairly consistent with a decrease of 2%an increase of 0.4%, including a 2.9% reduction 6% increase between 2020 and 2021. [1, 2] This increase in net generation follows a decrease of 2.9% between 2019 and 2020 . [1] However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic which began in 2020. Although the national net generation of electricity has remained consistent from 2011 to 2021, the GHG emissions per unit of electricity generation decreased from 541.9 to 372386.9 1 MT CO2e per thousand megawatt-hours, a 31% 29% drop. Several factors contributed to this reduction in emissions per unit of electricity generated, including the increased use of renewable energy sources and more electric power generation from natural gas combustion. [23] In 2011, 42.3% of U.S. electricity was generated from coal and 24.7% from natural gas; but by 20202021, 1921.3% 8% of electricity generation was derived generated from coal and 4038.3% from natural gas. Over the same timeframe, electricity generation derived generated from renewable sources including hydroelectric and solar increased from 12.5% to 1920.8%1%. [1, 2] Electricity generated from renewable energy results in no greenhouse gas GHG emissions from power plants; and generation from natural gas, particularly in more efficient combined-cycle generators, produces lower greenhouse gas emissions per unit of electricity generated than generation from coal. [34]


[1]     U.S. Energy Information Administration, Electric Power Monthly Table 1.1. Net Generation by Energy Source: Total (All Sectors), 2011- June 2021 (accessed September 17, 2021) at: https://www.eia.gov/electricity/monthly/epm_table_grapher.php?t=epmt_1_01

[2]     U.S. Energy Information Administration, Electric Power Monthly Table 1.1. Net Generation by Energy Source: Total (All Sectors), 2012- June 2022 (accessed September 19, 2022) at: https://www.eia.gov/electricity/monthly/epm_table_grapher.php?t=epmt_1_01

[3]     Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-20192020. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. April 20212022. EPA 430-R-2122-005003. Available at: https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/inventory-us-greenhouse-gas-emissions-and-sinks-1990-20192020

[34]   U.S. Department of Energy, Environment Baseline, Volume 1: Greenhouse Gas Emissions from the U.S. Power Sector. June 2016. Available at: https://energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2017/01/f34/Environment Baseline Vol. 1--Greenhouse Gas Emissions from the U.S. Power Sector.pdf


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Source: Brian Cook, (email - 9/18/2017), updated per K. Chiu 10/10/18, K. Chiu & RTI 8/31/19, move to Publication Help and updates 11/9/20,  KK. Chiu & RTI on 10/5/21 and 10/14/22

Approval / Publishing History: Version 1, Version 2 10/16/18, Version 2 10/1/19, Version 6 11/9/20, Version 7 10/6/21, Version 8 10/14/22

Expiration : none

Relevant Subpart: GHG Data and Publication.

History Panel For Internal Use - Not Visible to the Public


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