Concerns about climate change are prompting an increasing number of companies, governments, and utilities to set a target of reducing Carbon Emissions in the power sector to zero. To date, 17 states, as well as Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, have passed legislation or issued executive orders aimed at achieving carbon-free energy in the next few decades.
In addition, 46 US utilities have committed to being carbon-free by 2050. These objectives include about half of the population and economy of the United States. These are lofty goals, but a recent look at the energy market over the last 15 years reveals that significant pollution reductions are likely.
Berkeley Lab Scientist, Ryan Wiser, said, “Business-as-usual projections saw annual carbon dioxide emissions rising from 2,400 to 3,000 million metric tons (MMT) from 2005 to 2020. But actual 2020 emissions fell to only 1,450 MMT. The U.S. cut power sector emissions by 52% below projected levels – we are now ‘halfway to zero.’”
The study identified the key drivers of lower Carbon Emissions in the US power sector over the last 15 years, ranging from technical advancements to policy. In 2020, total electricity demand was nearly identical to that of 2005, and it was 24% lower than expected fifteen years earlier.