February 13, 2019
Growth of natural gas and renewables, plus greater energy efficiency kept U.S. power emissions in check, but faster economic growth and volatile weather lifted energy demand and overall emissions.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The electricity sector continued to improve its carbon intensity in 2018 due to increased renewable energy and natural gas power generation and investments in energy efficiency, even as a stronger economy and volatile weather boosted energy demand and contributed to a rise in economy-wide carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions.
Consumers experienced near record low energy costs on a household basis and the number of energy jobs grew. Meanwhile, greater corporate purchasing of renewables, state policies and plunging prices for energy storage continued to reshape the nation’s energy portfolio. These and other energy trends are highlighted in the 2019 Sustainable Energy in America Factbook published by BloombergNEF (BNEF) and the Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE).
“Continued expansion of sustainable energy is not just beneficial to the environment, it is an engine of American economic growth,” BCSE president Lisa Jacobson explained. “In our seventh year of analysis, we found that energy efficiency, natural gas and renewable energy continue to be key economic drivers. At the same time, they contribute substantially to important efforts to reduce emissions and develop modern and resilient infrastructure.”
The 2019 Factbook identifies key sustainable energy trends:
“More coal plants closing and being replaced by cleaner sources of power marked a key trend that continued in 2018,” said Ethan Zindler, BloombergNEF’s head of Americas. “However, the overall jump in CO₂ emissions during 2018 is a clear reminder that technological advancements on their own cannot address the climate challenge. Strong, supportive policies are needed at the local, state, as well as federal level.”
The Factbook outlines the contributions of corporations and states in driving growth of sustainable energy:
Support for sustainable energy by the business community and states occurred despite the lack of federal policy in many of these areas. Although one year of energy consumption and emissions data does not signify a trend, the statistics in this year’s Factbook do point to the importance of policy. Smart federal, state and local policies should support and leverage private sector investment going forward to ensure these gains continue, especailly in the industrial and buildings sectors that can be more challenging to decarbonize.
Continuing national energy trends as identified by the 2019 Factbook include:
The 2019 Factbook is the seventh edition of an annual national information resource that outlines key trends in sustainable energy, comprising the most dynamic elements of the American energy marketplace, including energy efficiency, natural gas and renewable energy. The 2019 Factbook includes a comprehensive overview and detailed charts, graphs and sources for information and is available for download here or in hard copy format directly from BCSE.
The Factbook is developed each year to serve as a reference guide of sustainable energy statistics for use by media, business and industry.
About the Factbook Partners
Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE) is a coalition of companies and trade associations from the energy efficiency, natural gas and renewable energy sectors. The Council membership also includes independent electric power producers, investor-owned utilities, public power, manufacturers, and project developers and service providers for energy and environmental markets. Since 1992, the Council has been a leading industry voice advocating for policies at the state, national and international levels that increase the use of commercially-available clean energy technologies, products and services.