Wednesday, July 5, 2023

A Look at the CO2 Problem

Despite promises made under the 2016 Paris Agreement, CO2 emissions from fuel have continued to grow year after year with the exceptions of a brief respite during the global financial crisis and the Covid-19 lockdowns. 

from the Global Carbon Project

China's CO2 emissions are now more than 230% of the United States and growing rapidly. India's emissions is almost equal to the 27 members of the European Union. Neither nation has any plans to reduce emissions. Under the Paris Agreement, the United States has set a goal to reach 100 % carbon pollution-free electricity by 2035 and net zero emissions throughout the economy by 2050. The President also pledged an interim goal of a 50-52% reduction from 2005 levels in economy-wide net greenhouse gas pollution by 2030. The EIA is forecasting that we will not achieve that goal.  Despite the fact that the carbon emissions have been generally trending down since 2005 there is no pathway to reach the 2030 goal. 

Here at home the energy needs of the Commonwealth, its businesses and its families are changing – and growing. Virginia is already the data center capital of the world, and the industry is exploding along with the demand of 24 hours a day 7 days a week power needed to run them. The demand for electricity in Virginia is growing at 7% a year to power the data centers. At the same time Virginia has been on a short timeline to decarbonize the grid and electrify transportation and heating.

Last month Dominion Energy filed its 2023 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) with the State Corporation Commission(SCC).  In that submission, Dominion details how it plans to meet electricity needs and demands over the next 15 years. The picture they paint is that Dominion cannot both meet the power demand of the exploding number of data centers in Virginia and the mandates of the Virginia Clean Economy Act (VCEA). The time for magical thinking is done.   You cannot plan to more than double electricity demand in 10 years (all of it 24/7 flat demand profile) while eliminating generation capacity. It has never been done, and Dominion admits that they need to not only keep all their fossil fuel power generation in operation, but they need build more dispatchable fossil fuel generation to meet this forecast demand.

Global Carbon Project

Though China has far surpassed the current CO2 emissions of the United States, our per capita carbon footprint is still the highest in the world followed by Russia. Cumulatively, the industrial history of Europe and the United States is very large and China with some justification does not feel they need take any action to interfere with their rise as the premier global superpower. 


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