Air Pollution Control Equipment Services, Emissions, Policy & Regulations

Carbon Emissions from Generation Fall Below Transportation Emissions

Issue 3 and Volume 121.

By Editors of Power Engineering

A new report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration indicates carbon dioxide emissions for power generation have fallen below emissions from the transportation sector for the first time since the late 1970s.

Electric power CO2 emissions fell to 1,803 million metric tons from October 2015 through September 2016, continuing a 10-year downward trend.

Transportation CO2 emissions rose slightly to 1,893 million metric tons during the same time period.

Power emissions mostly come from coal and natural gas-fired electric generators, with coal generation running from 206 to 229 pounds per million British thermal units, depending on the type of coal used. Natural gas emits an average of 117 pounds per million British thermal units, as it requires less fuel to generate electricity.

As such, coal accounted for 61 percent of all electrical generation emissions, even though coal was used to generate 31 percent of power. Natural gas generated 31 percent of generation emissions.

As for the transportation sector, 60 percent of those emissions came from gasoline, with 23 percent from distillate fuel oil and 12 percent from jet fuel.