Review of Energy Generation Trends in the United States.
As part of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, the Obama Administration pledged that the United States would reduce its carbon emissions by 25% before 2025. To meet this target, Obama and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed a set of regulations known as the Clean Power Plan (CPP), which laid out new efficiency standards for fossil-fuel power plants and policies designed to expand the country’s low/zero-carbon power generation capacity. As a result of the combination of regulations like the CPP and market pressures caused by the availability of inexpensive natural gas, the role of coal in electricity generation in the USA has significantly declined over the last few years. While coal accounted for almost half of all electricity generated in the United States in 2007, less than one-third of electricity in US is generated from the burning of coal today. As the number of US coal power plants decreased from 639 in 2005 to 416 in 2016, the number of people employed in the coal industry also shrank. Whereas about 250,000 people were employed in the coal industry in the 1980’s, that figure currently stands at 100,000. It was argued that any jobs lost due to closed coal mines, coal-fired power plants, and frozen construction of new plants would be replaced with those created by the expansion of new wind and solar projects. The EPA estimated that the CPP would create more than 80,000 new jobs to replace those lost in the coal sector due to the transition to cleaner power sources, but many people remain skeptical whether this will in fact be the case. This presentation will look at the role coal, wind, and solar power as sources of energy and their impact on carbon emissions and the American jobs landscape in the coming decades.