Guest “Frac on!” by David Middleton
NOVEMBER 10, 2020
U.S. energy-related carbon dioxide emissions fell in 2019, mainly in electric generation
After rising by 3% in 2018, energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions fell 3% in the United States in 2019. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) U.S. Energy-Related Carbon Dioxide Emissions, 2019 analysis, total energy-related CO2 emissions in 2019 were about 150 million metric tons (MMmt) lower than their 2018 level. EIA attributes nearly all (96%) of this decline to the changing mix of fuels used to generate electricity.
CO2 emissions from electric power generation are now down to where they were in the mid-1980’s.
Here’s the really funny part: The drop in emissions is mostly (61%) due to frac’ing.
Since 1990, the share of electricity generated by natural gas-fired power plants has grown from 12% to 38%. While the share generated by non-carbon fuels (nuclear, hydroelectric, wind, solar, etc.) has only grown from 31% to 38%. Unfortunately, almost all of that growth has come at the expense of our most reliable fuel, coal.
The growth in natural gas-fired generation was made possible by the abundant supply of cheap natural gas provided by the oil & gas industry through the use of hydraulic fracturing (frac’ing) of shale and other tight formations.