Greenhouse Gas Decreasing in Ohio – II

Revised – 2 May 2018

My previous blog posting was based on a report that carbon dioxide (CO2) produced by electric plants in Ohio was reduced by 38 percent between 2005 and 2015 (1). To bring the data up to date, I shifted the time frame to 2008-2017 (a) and showed that Ohio’s production and consumption were about the same in 2008. Since then production has fallen faster than consumption and Ohio has become a net importer of electricity. It is not surprising that CO2 production has fallen in view of our heavy dependence on fossil fuels.

The decrease in electricity generation starts with coal. Plant retirement in the past nine years has reduced coal capacity by about thirty percent (2) and the remaining plants are running only about half time (2,3). As sown below, the shortfall has been replaced by natural gas, imports from other states, and a decrease in demand (4).

Since 2008 CO2emissions in Ohio have decreased by about 49 million metric tons, or about 39 percent (b)(5). This decrease has the following components in million metric tons (mmt):

Coal = -59 mmt

Natural Gas = +10 mmt

it is also possible to see what has replaced the 48 mmt emissions due to coal.

  1. Since natural gas only produces 40% of the CO2 as coal, the 10 mmt from natural gas are replacing 25 mmt from coal, for an net reduction of 15 mmt.
  2. Decreased demand saves 8 mmt of CO2 (c)
  3. Using imports save the balance, 25 mmt of CO2

The biggest driver in greenhouse gas reduction is less use of coal. Ohio’s situation is improved considerably by importing electricity from out of state, which is approaching 20 percent of demand (4).

Notes:

(a) Dating from passage of electric deregulation in 2008 (127-SB221)

(b) Actual 2015 CO2 data have been extrapolated to provide 2017 estimates.

(c) Regression analysis of data from Ref. (4) shows that Ohioans are reducing usage by about 0.9 million kWh per year or a total of about 8 million kWh over the nine year period. Comparison of Refs. (4) and (5) shows that coal produces one metric ton of CO2 for each kWh of electricity generated while natural gas produces about 0.4 metric tons..

References:

(1) EDF This Midwestern state is the surprising standout on cutting carbon pollution, Jan 4,2018, http://blogs.edf.org/energyexchange/2018/01/04/this-midwestern-state-is-the-surprising-standout-on-cutting-carbon-pollution/

(2) EIA Electric Power Industry Capability by Primary Energy Source, 1990 through 2016, https://www.eia.gov/electricity/state/Ohio/

(3) EIA, Electric Power Monthly, Jan. 2017, https://www.eia.gov/electricity/monthly/

(4) EIA, Electricity Data Browser, https://www.eia.gov/electricity/data/browser

(5) EIA, State Carbon Dioxide Emissions Data https://www.eia.gov/environment/emissions/state/

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Ohio Wind Capacity

Wind Farms

 

Name County MW Ref.
 

Operational, 504 MW

Blue Creek Paulding,

Van Wert

304 (1)
Timber Rd. I Paulding 38 (1)
Timber Rd. II Paulding 99 (1)
Timber Rd. III Paulding 63 (1)
 

Under Construction, 466 MW

Hardin Hardin 300 (1)
Hog Creek Hardin 66 (1)
Northwest Ohio Paulding 100 (1)
 

Approved, 766 MW

Black Fork Crawford,

Richland

200 (1)
Buckeye I Champaign 135 (1)
Buckeye II Champaign 140 (1)
Greenwich Huron 60 (1)
Scioto Ridge Hardin 231 (1)
 

Planned, 670-680 MW

Exelon Seneca 200 (2)
Ice Breaker Cuyahoga 20-30 (3)
Long Prairie Van Wert 450 (4)

 

AEP and DPl have also announced plans for up to 800 MW of wind (5-7).  Small wind installations add 43 MW (8)

 

References:

(1) D. Gearino, ‘Different spins’, Columbus Dispatch, Sept. 24, 2017

(2) “Exelon to build its first commercial wind farm in Ohio”, Platts, 21 June 2016

(3) LEEDCo Vision and Timing http://www.leedco.org/icebreaker/vision-timeline, accessed 2 October 2017

(4) “Commissioners meet with wind farm representatives”, Times Bulletin, 3 Feb 2016

(5)”AEP renewable-power proposal ambitious, costly”, Columbus Dispatch, 16 Dec. 2015

http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/business/2015/12/16/fresh-power-up.html

(6) “AEP wants to hear from wind developers interested in big Ohio projects”, Columbus Business Journal, May 13, 2016

(7) “DP&L agrees to invest in clean energy; signaling agreement to retire Stuart and Killen coal plants”, Sierra Club Press Release, 30 January 2017

(8) “Small wind turbines in Ohio are the next big thing, says Department of Energy” http://www.cleveland.com/business/index.ssf/2017/08/small_wind_turbines_in_ohio_ar_1.html, August 11, 2017

Renewables Catching Up With Nuclear

Nuclear activists point out that reactors do not generate greenhouse gasses and that decommissioning them leads to electricity being generated by fossil fuels (some nuclear opponents claim that reactor technology is polluting; I looked into this several years ago and was not impressed by the quality of the research).

Renewable-energy supporters claim that sufficient wind energy is being installed each year to offset the loss of reactors (averaging about one decommissioning per year [1]).  Surprisingly output from reactors has remained steady. Improved efficiency must be the reason, since there have not been any new reactors for many years [2].

Generation by renewables have strongly increased from about half of nuclear in 2008 to about two thirds today. Since hydropower has remained steady, the increase is due to wind.

So far so good. Since nuclear production has been steady, wind has helped to take up the slack due to coal plant retirement.

References

[1] EIA, Today in Energy, June 13, 2017

[2] Data in the figure from EIA, Electricity Data Browse,  accessed July 1, 2017

Greenhouse Gas LTE & Comment

LTE: Cynthia Allen recently stated the people are unwilling to make the kind of sacrifices that are needed to combat climate change (Dispatch, 12 June). Her column shows a limited understanding of greenhouse gas production.

Ms. Allen is wrong when she implies that home heating and cooling are a major source of energy wastage. Actually, homes and businesses together generate a small fraction of greenhouse gasses. The three largest sources are electric power plants, motor vehicles, and industry.   Together they account for over three-quarters of greenhouse gasses.

But there is good news on all fronts. Emissions from power plants have been dropping sharply. Bloomberg recently predicted that electric cars with efficient motors will become cheaper than gas autos within ten years.  And industry has been saving energy. All in all carbon dioxide emissions have fallen 14 percent in the last ten years.

We are living in an era of great technological change. There are many opportunities for people to save money by saving energy. But we need to realize that the big changes will come from outside the home.

Alan R. Rosenfield

Columbus

Comment: Electricity generating is the largest user of energy in the U.S., and the largest source of greenhouse gasses.  The basic problem is that generation is extremely inefficient – almost two-thirds of the energy supplied goes up the smokestack as heat.

There are two ways to improve this situation:

  1. Consumers can use less energy.
  2. Electricity can be produced more efficiently.

In my LTE, I suggested that the second approach should be more effective. Generating electricity produces about two and a half times as much greenhouse gasses as residential and commercial users combined.

The technology for reducing generation-caused greenhouse gasses is available. Natural gas is better than coal, while renewable energy emits no greenhouse gasses at all.

To reiterate, if we are going to reduce greenhouse gasses, electricity generation will play a major role.

Soources:

EPA “Sources of Greenhouse Gas Emissions” http://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/sources-greenhouse-gas-emissions, accessed 27 June 2017

EIA “Electricity Data Browser”

http://www.eia.gov/electricity/data/browser/#/topic/7?agg=0,1&geo=vvvvvvvvvvvvo&endsec=vg&freq=A&start=2008&end=2014&ctype=linechart&ltype=pin&rtype=s&maptype=0&rse=0&pin=

Accessed 26 June 2017

 

LLNL “Energy Flow Charts” flowcharts.llnl.gov, Accessed 26 June 2017

Why Less Coal

I have been assuming that gains in electricity generation by natural gas were the reason for loss in generation by coal. This is not quite true. In 2016 coal generation was down by about 750 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) from its 2006-2008 average, a 38 percent drop. About two-thirds of the drop was due to natural gas and about one-third to renewables.

Source EIA Electric Data Browser, accessed 21 June 2017