Thursday, February 28, 2013

Natural gas, not renewables, drives historic emissions declines

How does Rhodium claim that solar and wind had a greater impact than gas, even though the EIA shows that gas increased last year ten times more than wind, and nearly one hundred times more than solar? By using improper assumptions, and inventing a bizarrely indirect way of measuring what matters.
First, Rhodium invents a counterfactual emissions growth trajectory from 2005 to 2012, calculating the respective emissions reduction from slower economic growth, changes in energy intensity of the economy, and decarbonization of the US energy supply. They assume all emissions reductions from 2005-2012 resulted from slower or negative GDP growth relative to their counterfactual and decarbonization of the energy supply — none of the emissions reductions are due to decreases in the energy intensity of the economy, which they claim was too minor in the "vehicle, buildings and industry" sectors of the economy.
But this completely ignores the energy intensity effect in the power sector. Switching from coal to gas not only reduces the carbon intensity of the energy supply, but also reduces the energy intensity of the economy, since cheaper gas forces shut-down of less efficient coal-fired power in favor of more efficient combined-cycle gas turbines (combined cycle plants have about twice the thermal efficiency as coal plants). It is due to this effect, along with economy-wide sectoral shifts and increased end-use efficiency in other sectors, that Climate Central and the Energy Information Administration find energy intensity declined about 10% in 2012 under 2005 levels.
Read the entire article at The Breakthrough Institute:

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