Carbon intensity is falling in industrial, electric power sectors(credit: EIA)

Over the last seven years, the electrical power sector has gone from being one of the most carbon-emitting sectors of the American economy per unit of fuel consumed to one of the least carbon-emitting sectors.

That’s according to new data from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Despite the good news, the EIA’s numbers show that, since 1975, the carbon emissions of the US transportation sector per unit of fuel used has hardly changed at all.
The EIA measured relative emissions across the US economy as “carbon intensity”—an average of the amount of carbon any sector gives off as it consumes different kinds of fuel.

The measurements were applied to five sectors of the US economy: transportation, commercial, residential, electric, and industrial.
The industrial sector is currently the least carbon intensive in its operations, and it gives off just 44 kilograms of CO2 per million BTUs used.

The EIA said part of this was due to the fact that several portions of the industrial sector run on biomass fuel.

Although burning biomass releases carbon into the atmosphere, the EIA doesn’t count those emissions as energy-related CO2 emissions because most kinds of biofuel absorb CO2 from the atmosphere as growing plants. “The same consideration applies to the use of biogenic fuels in other sectors, such as wood heating in the residential sector and ethanol consumption in the transportation sector,” the EIA writes.
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