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U.S. electric grid is halfway to zero carbon

Other sectors including buildings lag power industry.

April 20, 2021 |

Courtesy Pixabay

The U.S. electric grid is making significant progress to zero-carbon status, according to a report from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Greenhouse-gas emissions from the electricity sector last year were 52% lower in 2020 than the U.S. Energy Information Administration predicted they would be back in 2005, the report says. Power-sector emissions fell 40% from 2005 to 2020, with much of the drop driven by cheap natural gas supplanting coal as the dominant fuel for U.S. power plants.

Further emissions cuts will require greater adoption of clean technologies such as energy storage, and that is achievable with the declining cost of solar and wind power generation, and battery storage, the report says. Low-carbon resources could reliably meet as much as 70%–90% of power supply needs at low incremental cost.

Other sectors, including the built environment, have made less progress in cutting emissions. Residential building emissions declined 29% from 2005 to 2020. Commercial building emissions dipped 32% during the same period.

Grid-interactive efficient buildings could help to make the grid more efficient by reducing the need for new supply and delivery infrastructure and providing another form of demand flexibility.

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