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10 Most Important Energy Numbers from 2018

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Whether you read newspapers, magazines, social media or blogs in 2018, energy found its way into the headlines. 

It’s not hard to see why: the year brought major shifts in energy policy, a groundbreaking report on climate change and a number of significant energy market developments.  

We’ve compiled some of the year’s most telling energy statistics to round up and recap the industry’s biggest storylines. Here are the top 10 most important energy numbers from 2018. 

100 Percent: Businesses and Policymakers Commit to Carbon-Free Electricity 

2018 was a year of carbon-free commitments for many businesses and states. In December, both New York and the District of Columbia set ambitious targets to procure carbon-free electricity, following similar announcements made by Washington and Illinois. On December 17, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo pledged that New York would move to 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2040. Not to be outdone, the Washington, D.C. City Council passed a mandate requiring the nation’s capital to be powered by 100 percent renewable electricity by 2032. 

Of course, many businesses have already set their own carbon-free commitments. More and more, businesses view renewable energy – especially solar power – as a viable and strategic energy procurement option. In fact, more than 158 of the world’s most influential companies have committed to 100 percent renewable electricity as part of the RE100 initiative

39 Years: U.S. Coal Consumption Falls to the Lowest Level in Decades

In 2018, U.S. power generation continued to shift rapidly away from coal as consumption dropped four percent – the lowest overall level since 1979

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), roughly one-third of U.S. coal-fired generating units have been retired since 2007 as more and more natural gas-fired units and renewable energy resources have come online. Looking forward, EIA expects the downward trend to continue for coal, with consumption plummeting another 8 percent in 2019.  

1.5 Degrees: United Nations Advisory Panel Issues Call-to-Action to Halt the Global Temperature Rise

In 2015, 195 nations reached a groundbreaking climate change accord in Paris to halt the global temperature rise at 2 degrees Celsius (above pre-industrial levels). Three years later in 2018, a special report produced by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) found that the Paris agreement would not be enough to stabilize the impacts of climate change. Instead, the report found that there is only about a decade to keep global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius.  

While the report suggested some substantial, never-before-seen changes in energy, agriculture and transportation to meet the 1.5-degree goal, there is a silver lining: there are many sustainable actions businesses can take today, including boosting energy efficiency and committing to renewable energy

28 Percent: U.S. Power Sector Carbon Emissions Continue to Decline

The changing U.S. power generation mix has had a significant impact on carbon dioxide emissions. Since 2005, carbon emissions from the U.S. power sector have dropped by 28 percent – the lowest level since 1987. 

According to the EIA, the reduction in carbon emissions is largely attributable to two driving factors: the switch from coal to natural gas and renewables, as well as flattening electricity demand.  

32 Percent to Zero: EPA Proposes Affordable Clean Energy Rule to Replace Clean Power Plan Targets 

As U.S. power sector emissions have continued to decline, so have Obama-era federal policies aimed at further reducing emissions. In August, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed the draft Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule to replace the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, which targeted an overarching 32 percent reduction in power sector carbon emissions by 2030

The new proposed rule from the Trump administration effectively removes any mandatory target for emissions reduction and gives individual states the authority to develop plans to address greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions produced by coal-fired power plants. A final ACE rule is expected in early 2019

73,308 Megawatts: ERCOT Breaks All-Time Peak Electricity Demand Record  

2018 brought the fifth hottest summer on record for Texas – and also record electricity consumption. 

On July 19, 2018, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) – which operates about three-fourths of the Lone Star State’s electricity grid – set a new peak electricity demand record when demand hit 73,308 megawatts (MW) between 4:00 and 5:00 p.m. The new record greatly exceeded the previous mark of 71,043 MW set on August 11, 2016. Fortunately, in both instances, ERCOT had sufficient generation resources on hand to meet the spike in demand.  

2 Billion Cubic Feet Per Day: U.S. LNG Exports Grow Four-Fold 

Last year, U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports grew four times to nearly two billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d). The increase in U.S. LNG exports has correlated with growth in domestic natural gas production, global natural gas demand (China, Mexico and South Korea received more than half of U.S. LNG exports), and U.S. LNG export capacity. 

Currently, the U.S. has two LNG export terminals with four more expected to open by the end of next year. After the new export facilities come online, U.S. LNG exports are projected to grow to a whopping 10 billion Bcf/d by 2020

1 Million Sold: U.S. Plug-In Electric Vehicle Sales Begin to Accelerate     

In October, U.S. plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) sales finally topped the one million mark, with approximately half of all sales coming in California. According to Greentech Media, PEV sales averaged less than 5,000 per month in September 2012, but have now grown to more than 45,000 each month. 

Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) predicts that global EV sales will hit 11 million by 2025. While EVs continue to become more appealing to U.S. consumers, BNEF anticipates that China will make up half of all global EV demand by 2025.  

14.2 Billion Devices In-Use: The Total Number of Connected Devices Continues to Expand   

The Internet of Things (IoT) has continued to expand and offer businesses greater insight, control and automation of their facility energy use. Gartner now forecasts that there will be more than 14 billion connected things in use worldwide by 2019 – more than double since 2016. In the coming years, that figure is expected to grow exponentially, topping 25 billion by 2021. 

60 Gigawatts: The U.S. Has Now Installed Enough Solar Energy to Power 11 Million Homes 

For the first-time ever, U.S. installed solar PV capacity topped 60 gigawatts (GW) – the energy equivalent of powering approximately 11.2 million American homes. Solar accounted for about 30 percent of new electricity generating capacity in 2018, trailing only natural gas. Over the next five years, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) expects total installed solar capacity to double.  
2019 is poised to be an even more eventful year for energy. Sign up below to stay tuned to the Direct Energy Business Blog in the New Year as we continue to share the latest energy news and insights for your business.

Posted: December 28, 2018