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EGEB: Why US emissions fell 2.1% in 2019 (but it’s not enough)

In today’s Electrek Green Energy Brief (EGEB):

  • A new report says US greenhouse gas emissions fell 2.1% last year due to a decrease in coal.
  • Green Coast rounds up six exciting green energy projects that will “shape the future.”
  • Ocean Renewable Power Company gets a new CEO.

The Electrek Green Energy Brief (EGEB): A daily technical, financial, and political review/analysis of important green energy news.

US emissions drops in 2019

The US saw a 2.1% fall in greenhouse gas emissions in 2019, according to a report by independent research company Rhodium Group titled “Preliminary US Emissions Estimates for 2019.” This was due to a decrease in coal plants, which resulted in an emissions drop of 190 million metric tons.

The fall is good news, seeing how there was a rise of 3.4% in emissions in 2018. But the bad news is, it’s not enough. Even though renewables were up 6% in 2019, there has been little progress in reducing CO2 in other sectors. Industry is now a larger source of emissions than coal-fired power, and growing.

The report states:

Coal-fired power generation fell by a record 18% year-on-year to its lowest level since 1975. An increase in natural gas generation offset some of the climate gains from this coal decline, but overall power sector emissions still decreased by almost 10%.

Unfortunately, far less progress was made in other sectors of the economy. Transportation emissions remained relatively flat [drop by 0.3%]. Emissions rose from buildings [2.2%], industry [0.6%], and other parts of the economy [agriculture, waste, land use, oil and gas methane, etc. — 4.4%], though less than in 2018. All told, net US [greenhouse gas] emissions ended 2019 slightly higher than at the end of 2016. At roughly 12% below 2005 levels, the US is at risk of missing its Copenhagen Accord target of a 17% reduction by the end of 2020, and is still a long way off from the 26-28% reduction by 2025 pledged under the Paris Agreement [which, of course, the US withdrew from under the Trump administration].

6 great green energy projects

The renewable energy blog Green Coast has rounded up six innovative green energy projects around the world that demonstrate future potential. Click on the article here to read the full roundup, and we’ve summarized their choices below. (Nice choices, Green Coast!)

  1. The Tengger Desert Solar Park in in Zhongwei, Ningxia province, China, is the largest solar project in the world, with a generating capacity of 1.5 GW. It shows that solar power has the ability to meet a nation’s energy requirements.
  2. The Murchison Renewable Hydrogen Project in Kalbarri, Australia, demonstrates how solar and wind power can be stored in the form of renewable hydrogen. This makes it possible to export renewable energy.
  3. China’s Solar Highway, which is a road made up of solar panels in Jinan, Shandong province, demonstrates how the country is trying new ways of using solar energy.
  4. The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System in the Mojave Desert, California, is evidence that solar thermal can also be an effective way of producing electricity. It’s the largest solar thermal plant in the world.
  5. The Hornsdale Power Reserve project in South Australia establishes a new way of storing large quantities of renewable energy.
  6. The Atauro Island Hydropanel Project, near East Timor, shows that solar energy can be used to produce clean water. Hydropanels are solar panels that can harness solar energy and extract water from the air.

ORPC’s new CEO

The Portland, Maine, headquartered Ocean Renewable Power Company (ORPC) develops technologies that generate electricity from tidal, river, and ocean currents. (It also has offices in Montreal and Dublin.)

According to ORPC, “it is the only company to have built, operated, and delivered power to a utility grid from a tidal energy project (in Maine), and to a remote community grid from a river energy project (in Alaska).”

ORPC has announced that director Stuart Davis is succeeding Chris Sauer as CEO, as of January 20. Davies joined the board of directors in 2019.

Davies was chief investment officer of Global Opportunistic Credit and an investment committee member of Sankaty Advisors, where he worked for 17 years. He is also involved with the MIT Sloan Sustainability Initiative as a member of its renewable energy finance round table.

Davies said:

We are creating the opportunity to transition remote communities off diesel power by harnessing energy from river and tidal currents using ORPC’s proprietary RivGen® and TidGen® Power Systems. Providing predictable baseload power as the key part of smart microgrids that also combine wind, solar, and energy storage to handle peak load demands will give these communities smart, emission-free, energy independence. I look forward to working to deliver ORPC’s innovative and practicable solution to our customers.

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Avatar for Michelle Lewis Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis is a writer and editor on Electrek and an editor on DroneDJ, 9to5Mac, and 9to5Google. She lives in White River Junction, Vermont. She has previously worked for Fast Company, the Guardian, News Deeply, Time, and others. Message Michelle on Twitter or at Check out her personal blog.