Carnegie Mellon University
January 09, 2018

Power Sector Index sees renewables grow

On January 9th, Carnegie Mellon University, supported by Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems (MHPS), announced the release of the Power Sector Carbon Index’s third quarter update, measuring the carbon dioxide emissions intensity from the U.S. electrical power generation sector. In comparing the third quarter of 2017 to the third quarter of 2016, the index found that the U.S. power plant emissions averaged 1,035 lbs. of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour (CO2/MWh) in the third quarter of 2017, a decrease of 5 percent from the same time frame in 2016.

Overall electricity generation in the US was down by 5% from Q3 2016 to Q3 2017, with the largest share being generated from natural gas, though even this was down by 7% as compared to Q3 of 2016. Electricity generation from renewables was 10% higher in the third quarter of 2017 when compared to the third quarter of 2016—though nuclear still outstripped it at 19% of total generation. As of Q3, the rolling annual average of the Power Sector Carbon Index decreased from 1,324 lbs of CO2/MWh to 981 lbs of CO2/MWh.

“2017 being the second hottest year on record is just another indicator that we need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions more quickly,” says Costa Samaras, assistant professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering. “Our index, which tracks the carbon-intensity of the US power sector, found that emissions intensity last year was 26% lower than in 2005. This is great news, but we'll have to get a lot lower in order to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.”

View the Carnegie Mellon Power Sector Carbon Index

Read more about the Power Sector Carbon Index data.