Fact #949: October 31, 2016 Reduced CO2 Emissions in the Electric Power Sector Will Benefit the Transportation Sector as Electrification Grows

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In 1973, the electric power sector produced 691 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions per million kilowatt hour (kW-hr) of electricity generated. By 2015, CO2 emissions were down to 488 metric tons per million kW-hr of electricity generated. That reduction is about 30% with much of it occurring in the last ten years. The declining use of coal and increasing reliance on less carbon intensive sources, including natural gas and renewables, has contributed to the decrease in CO2 emissions from electricity generation.

Since February of 2016, the transportation sector CO2 emissions have exceeded that of the electric power sector, partly due to the decrease in electric power sector emissions. As the transportation sector relies more upon the power grid for supporting the growing number of plug-in electric vehicles, the decrease in CO2 from power generation will benefit the transportation sector as well.

Carbon Dioxide Emissions per kW-hr of Electricity Generated in the Electric Power Sector, 1973-2015

Graphic showing carbon dioxide emissions per kw-hr of electricity generated in the electric power sector from 1973 to 2015.

Fact #949 Dataset

Supporting Information

Carbon Dioxide Emissions per kW-hr of Electricity Generated in the Electric Power Sector, 1973-2015

YearMillion Kilowatt-hours of Electricity GeneratedMillion Metric Tons of Carbon Dioxide EmissionsMetric Tons of Carbon Dioxide Emissions per Million kW-hr of Electricity Generated
19731,860,7101,286691
19741,867,1401,251670
19751,917,6491,244649
19762,037,6961,351663
19772,124,3231,442679
19782,206,3311,448656
19792,247,3721,505670
19802,286,4391,544675
19812,294,8121,551676
19822,241,2111,481661
19832,310,2851,521658
19842,416,3041,588657
19852,469,8411,619656
19862,487,3101,613649
19872,572,1271,680653
19882,704,2501,758650
19892,848,2271,826641
19902,901,3221,831631
19912,935,5611,830623
19922,934,3741,843628
19933,043,8971,919630
19943,088,7251,944629
19953,194,2301,960614
19963,284,1412,033619
19973,329,3752,101631
19983,457,4162,192634
19993,529,9822,204624
20003,637,5292,310635
20013,580,0532,273635
20023,698,4582,288619
20033,721,1592,319623
20043,808,3602,350617
20053,902,1922,416619
20063,908,0772,358603
20074,005,3432,425605
20083,974,3492,373597
20093,809,8372,158566
20103,972,3862,270572
20113,948,1862,170550
20123,890,3582,034523
20133,903,7152,050525
20143,937,0032,050521
20153,930,5791,919488

Source: Energy Information Administration, August 2016 Monthly Energy Review, Tables 7.2b and 12.6.

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