Reduced Grid CO2 Emissions Will Benefit the Transportation Sector as More EVs Are Sold

OCT 31 2016 BY MARK KANE 29

According to the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, the electricity generation of today emits about 30% less CO2 emissions than 40 years ago.

Which doesn’t sound like a lot, until of course once notices that most of the improvement is via the last 10 years, thanks to the growing role of renewable energy soruces – which as of 2015 is now the #1 source of new energy generation in the world.

smart electric drive cabrio

2017 smart electric drive cabrio drives by a…flipping wind turbine of course (little known fact: OEM pictures of EVs without wind turbines were banned several years ago)

The decent pace of lowering CO2 emissions, and hopefully other emissions, is just further wind in the sails of today’s EV revolution.

“In 1973, the electric power sector produced 691 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions per million kilowatt hour (kW-hr) of electricity generated.

By 2015, CO2 emissions were down to 488 metric tons per million kW-hr of electricity generated. That reduction is about 30% with much of it occurring in the last ten years. The declining use of coal and increasing reliance on less carbon intensive sources, including natural gas and renewables, has contributed to the decrease in CO2 emissions from electricity generation.

Since February of 2016, the transportation sector CO2 emissions have exceeded that of the electric power sector, partly due to the decrease in electric power sector emissions. As the transportation sector relies more upon the power grid for supporting the growing number of plug-in electric vehicles, the decrease in CO2 from power generation will benefit the transportation sector as well.”

source: energy.gov

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29 Comments on "Reduced Grid CO2 Emissions Will Benefit the Transportation Sector as More EVs Are Sold"

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Nice. Is that chart for US emissions, or have they been tracking global emissions? Guessing the former?

“[T]he electricity generation of today emits about 30% less CO2 emissions than 40 years ago. Which doesn’t sound like a lot, until of course once notices that most of the improvement is via the last 10 years, thanks to the growing role of renewable energy sources. . .”

How much of the decline is attributable to switching from coal to natural gas as opposed to switching from coal to wind and solar renewable energy? And what’s the breakdown for wind and solar individually?

40 years is not how most are score-keeping. The choice of either 2.4Gt, in the 2005 base year (used for Copenhagen), or the 2.0Gt of the 2012 base year (used for the Clean Power Plan) are more common choices.

4,000 TwH going from 43% coal (2012), to last year’s ~33%, if swapped into natural gas resulted in about a 1,000lb/MwH savings, for each MwH of swapping. The pickup in NG use has been almost 1:1 with coal’s decline.

So, .1(4000)=400TwH = 400,000,000MwH, means ~200 million tons of lower CO2 (.2Gt). We had higher TwH, in 2005, so the attribution to renewables (which, again, tends to understate the carbon dioxide problem) actually needs to be corrected for both reduced load and increased natural gas.

Numbers are U.S.

Going to also recognize Mark’s graph is “rate-based” and not “mass-based”. The planet, and physics, adhere to a mass-based limit. What this graph misses is how much additional electric consumption there has been, since 1973. I don’t have the number handy, but bet it’s not ~4,000TwH.

It’s good to go beyond knowing enough to be dangerous. Let’s problem solve.

I agree with what you write. But please rememeber that it’s GWh and TWh.

And it was about 1861 TWh of electricity generated back then in the US.

Thanks for the response.

In other signs of progress, StratosFuel and Hydrogenics just announced a wind to hydrogen project in SoCal:

http://www.altenergymag.com/news/2016/10/31/stratosfuel-and-hydrogenics-enter-into-strategic-partnership-to-build-largest-100-renewable-wind-to-hydrogen-plant-in-north-america/24986/

It aims to produce 1000 kg of clean H2 per day for FCEVs. I think that’s about 50 mWh of wind per day. Impressive.

That’s the opposite of progress. Throwing more money down the rathole of the “hydrogen economy”.

It’s scary how uneducated a country is when even the official energy department can’t even write kWh properly.

It’s a recognized abbreviation of Kilowatt-hour. http://www.dictionary.com/browse/kw-hr

And Webster’s allow kwhr and K.W.H. Just because it is in a dictionary doesn’t make it right.

This is something a fifth grader should know from natural science class.

Mikael said:

“Just because it is in a dictionary doesn’t make it right.”

Actually, in the USA, that does make it right. Perhaps it’s different in your country.

“This is something a fifth grader should know from natural science class.”

You must not know very many fifth graders.

Still not true, “which as of 2015 is now the #1 source of new energy generation in the world.”

There is a massive difference between capacity and “generation”. Why do we get drunk on the idea there’s none, Mark? The edit to “new” doesn’t fix the word choice.

A lot of it due to fracking as well (NG).

The “Methane Elephant” in the room? Can we measure only one metric? This is cherry picking at its finest! Natural Gas has replaced Coal to some extent, but Fracking Natural Gas drives methane by product release. There is a bigger picture in heat trapping gas besides CO2.

So many useful idiots are going to be abashed when finally they realize more carbon dioxide is good and it has little to no affect on earthly temperatures. Beer fizz is not endangering the world. Try some Tony Heller graphs to get your eyes opened. I am an EV fan because it COMPETES with gasoline.

It is naive to think it does not affect temperature. From a pure chemistry standpoint, CO2 has one more bond than O2, and as a result, it can vibrate in several more dimensions than simple O2 can, causing far more heat when hit with radiation from the sun.

You even have the alarmist argument backwards.

Shawn, look up Tangier Island, Virginia and make the people that live on that island very happy by buying a home that is being overtaken by sea level rise caused by man made CO2 emmissions. Put your money where your mouth is and help Tangier residents.

Almost all “sea level residency” was taken up by people who didn’t know any better. We did know that sea levels were 200 feet lower 10,000 years ago – but we are freaking out now about 10 feet of sea level rise. Maybe we should have thought that sea level was not done rising in the first place? Maybe we as a whole humanity need to face the facts that our fore-fathers were ignorant of the larger scale cycle that the earth may go through. If we are doing CO2 management *strictly* to save sea-side residences and even cities – then let’s publish that as the reason. I doubt it is the primary concern here but we can easily spend a trillion or two of “printed fiat currency” and just move people inland to safer locations. Make them pay for 80% of the move because they choose to live near the ocean in the first place but humanity can help them out a little bit. How to treat locations like Florida and some other near sea level areas that have a wide population spread? You got me. But it looks like we cannot stop at least a 15-20′ sea level… Read more »

That is a pretty stupid non-sequitor.

shawn marshall said:

“So many useful idiots are going to be abashed when finally they realize more carbon dioxide is good and it has little to no affect on earthly temperatures.”

I agree that the importance of a piffling bit of global warming has been wildly exaggerated in the media, but the consequences of massively increasing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere certainly has not. That has caused acid rain which is acidifying the oceans, devastating coral reefs worldwide and creating other widespread environmental disasters.

Even animals know enough not to crap in their own nest. It seems we humans aren’t even that smart. Claiming that even more of that will be “good”… is ignoring reality in a rather flagrant manner.

The benefits of increased CO2 have been shown in many scientific studies; crop yields; greening of the earth; possible cooling of the earth. The so-called physics of AGW is bogus. Any one who reads the current science will see that the wheel has turned on the scam artists.

Hottest Halloween night in the Midwest on record…global warming is real pull your heads out of your arse…Republicans.

It’s been warming for 160 years. We just came off a massive El Nino. Warming is good for humankind. They are finding tree stumps in retreating glaciers. What?

Reduced CO2 emissions will benefit all earthlings. Wake up earthlings.

Sad to see the distortion of data in this article, achieved by cutting off the bottom of the graph to exaggerate the improvement over time.

Sadly, the manipulative trick of cutting off the bottom of a graph seems to becoming more and more commonplace as time goes by. 🙁

Grid emissions are well down. Of course, steepest is in the 2000 and beyond window when closing factories accelerated in order to ship many of those jobs off-shore. In the same period, Grid emissions from China and India ramped up similar to the decrease in USA grid emissions.

So, we’re good…. Right?

Now, of course on a kg of CO2 per MWh produced, this is clearly due to switching over to Natural Gas from Coal on the larger scale (800 kg CO2 for Coal, 600 kg CO2 for Nat Gas) in base-load plants. However, we also are running plants more efficiently as well – newer turbines produce slightly less CO2 per power produced and there is fewer “cold starts” of peaker plants which burn far less efficiently during start-up. Once hot, plants run smoothly. Solar PV may help a bit on the peaker plant requirements – but also, with less factories out there (per my above post) – there is less need for running sub-optimal base-load plants. Since Exelon is shutting down two nuclear fired plants in favor of Natural Gas power plants, then CO2 levels are not helped by that at all – Nuclear plants are far greener and only produce 5-10 kg of CO2 per MWh produced. That is what we need to focus on – how can we replace Natural Gas with “more cost effective” Nuclear as we start to transition away from coal completely. Leave Coal in the ground for our great grand-children – who will definitely need… Read more »