Dec 12, 2019

Leaky power grids are a huge source of carbon emissions

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Reproduced from The Conversation; Note: IEA estimates used to compare calculations; Chart: Axios Visuals

Leaky power grids that waste energy before it reaches consumers are an often overlooked source of carbon emissions, per The Conversation.

What they did: Researchers calculated the pollution from additional energy needed to make up for what's lost in transmission and distribution systems worldwide.

  • The experts with Johns Hopkins and the University of Maryland tallied "compensatory emissions" based on generation sources and grid quality in different countries.

What they found: It's big when you add it all up.

  • The losses also vary a lot by country, notes the piece derived from a recent paper in the journal Nature Climate Change.
  • "In 2016, aggregate transmission and distribution losses reached 19% in India and 16% in Brazil," they note.
  • They were over 50% in Haiti, Iraq, and the Republic of Congo, which "means that only half of the electricity generated reached or was billed to the consumers as usable power."

What's next: They call for greater attention to stemming emissions through use of better tech and infrastructure upgrades.

  • Various ways to lower energy loss include replacing inefficient transmission wires, using superconductors to reduce resistance in transmission wires, and configuring distribution lines in a better way.

Go deeper: The carbon footprints of the rich and activist

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Asia is coal's epicenter

Reproduced from IEA; Chart: Axios Visuals

The International Energy Agency is out with a preview of next week's report on the state of coal and the future of the resource over the next five years.

What they found: One conclusion is that Asia will largely dictate the future of how quickly the world does — or doesn't — begin moving away from the most carbon-emitting fuel.

Go deeperArrowDec 13, 2019

Big Tech data centers probably aren't a climate change time bomb

Data: Reproduced from an International Energy Agency report; Chart: Axios Visuals

An International Energy Agency analysis pushes back against concerns that data centers are a ticking carbon bomb as use of web-connected devices expands.

Where it stands: Power use by data centers consumes about 1% of global power (which isn't trivial in a world of still-rising emissions) and has changed little since 2015, they report.

Go deeperArrowJan 7, 2020

U.S. greenhouse gas emissions fell by estimated 2.1% in 2019

Power lines in California in 2019. Photo: Jane Tyska/MediaNews Group/The Mercury News via Getty Images

U.S. greenhouse gas emissions fell by 2.1% in 2019 due to a decrease in national coal consumption, according to estimates from the Rhodium Group released Tuesday.

Why it matters: Power generated from coal plants fell by a record 18%, and overall emissions from the power section declined by almost 10% — despite an increase in emissions from natural gas.

Go deeperArrowJan 7, 2020