Apr 26, 2021Clean Energy Future

Emissions ‘Halfway to Zero’ with Natural Gas

New research from the US Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) has shown that the US has made significant headway in reducing its overall emissions over the past 15 years. The study, entitled Halfway to Zero: Progress towards a Carbon-Free Power Sector, found the US cut its power emissions by more than 52% from 2005-2020 thanks in part to an increase of natural gas and renewables in the national energy mix.

While renewable technologies such as wind and solar power have seen a sizeable increase of around 79% since 2005, natural gas use grew by a massive 115% in the same period.

This gas growth has helped to reduce emissions in the US because natural gas energy has become an increasingly popular replacement for coal energy. Natural gas energy releases around half as many carbon emissions into the atmosphere as coal and has become a natural successor in both the US and Australia’s transition towards a cleaner energy future.

As the report’s authors state, “Coal-to-gas fuel switching played a crucial role [in emissions reduction], with natural gas generation growing rapidly, driven by the shale gas revolution and the difference between projected and actual fuel prices.”

In addition to the drop in emissions, the report, funded by the US Department of Energy, cited an 18% drop in electricity costs and a 29% increase in energy sector employment in the same time period.

While the US and Australia are obviously different countries with different needs, the statistics on emissions reduction are significant. Natural gas producers across the country are working to reduce carbon emissions through the switch from coal to gas in line with the aims of the 2016 Paris Agreement.