100 largest US power producers cut carbon emissions 8% in 2018
Carbon dioxide emissions from the largest 100 power
producers in the U.S. decreased 8% over the course of 2018 largely due to
natural gas, wind and solar projects displacing coal-fired generation,
sustainability group Ceres said in a report released July 8. Ceres based the
company rankings and emissions totals on 2018 generation data.
Ceres also posted aggregated findings regarding overall
power sector emissions during 2019. For instance, power plant carbon emissions
during 2019 were 11% lower than 1990 levels and about 30% below their peak in
2007. Also, from 2000 through 2019, nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide emissions
for the sector decreased 83% and 91%.
The continued decrease of emissions before COVID-19
struck in 2020 shows that the decarbonization trend is taking hold, Dan Bakal,
Ceres senior director for electric power, said in an interview. Bakal noted
that COVID-19 has significantly reduced total emissions levels thus far in
Ceres is the organizer for the Climate Action 100+
initiative in which more than 450 investors with over $40 trillion in assets
are pushing more than 160 companies to disclose their climate risks, curb their
emissions and improve related governance practices. Many of the top 100
companies are targeted by that initiative.
Bakal noted that even Vistra Energy Corp., which had the
highest total carbon emissions in 2018 of the 100 power providers reviewed, has
set ambitious climate targets. Vistra climbed into the top emissions slot in
2018 from sixth place the prior year following its April 2018 merger with
Dynegy. The merger resulted in natural gas comprising more than 60% of Vistra’s
total generation capacity.
But, in October 2019, the utility announced a target of
net-zero by 2050 with the official goal of achieving 80% emissions reductions
from 2010 levels by that year.
In an emailed statement, Vistra Chief Sustainability
Officer Molly Sorg noted that since 2016, the company has gone from having 70%
of its output produced by burning coal to one that contributes less than 20% of
its earnings from coal, while also investing heavily in solar and battery
Sorg also stated that Vistra’s emissions intensity
levels are not the highest of the 100 reviweed companies. Rather, Vistra ranked
36th on its emissions intensity rate based on pounds of carbon per MWh of the
100 power producers reviewed in the report.
The top five carbon-emitting power producers in 2018
other than Vistra were Duke Energy Corp., Southern Co., American Electric Power
Co. Inc. and Berkshire Hathaway Energy. Duke and Southern have set targets of
net-zero emissions by 2050, and AEP has a goal of reducing 80% of its emissions
by 2050 from 2000 levels.
Of the 100 companies reviewed, nine reported zero carbon emissions.
- ^ Renewable Energy World Content Team (www.renewableenergyworld.com)
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