Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Existing power plants will spew 300 billion more tons of carbon dioxide during use

Date:
August 26, 2014
Source:
University of California - Irvine
Summary:
Existing power plants around the world will pump out more than 300 billion tons of carbon dioxide over their expected lifetimes, significantly adding to atmospheric levels of the climate-warming gas, according to scientists.

Existing power plants around the world will pump out more than 300 billion tons of carbon dioxide over their expected lifetimes, significantly adding to atmospheric levels of the climate-warming gas, according to UC Irvine and Princeton University scientists.

Related Articles


Their findings, which appear Aug. 26 in the journal Environmental Research Letters, are the first to quantify how quickly these "committed" emissions are growing -- by about 4 percent per year -- as more fossil fuel-burning power plants are built.

Assuming these stations will operate for 40 years, the power plants constructed globally in 2012 alone will produce about 19 billion tons of CO2 during their existence, the researchers project.

"Bringing down carbon emissions means retiring more fossil fuel-burning facilities than we build," said Steven Davis, assistant professor of Earth system science at UCI and the study's lead author. "But worldwide, we've built more coal-burning power plants in the past decade than in any previous decade, and closures of old plants aren't keeping pace with this expansion."

"Far from solving the climate change problem, we're investing heavily in technologies that make the problem worse," he added.

According to the study, the CO2 emissions that will come from existing power plants represent a substantial portion of the emissions budget that would keep global temperatures from warming more than 2 degrees Celsius relative to the preindustrial era -- the current international target.

Power plants now operating in the U.S. and Europe account for about 11 percent and 9 percent of committed emissions, respectively, but these commitments have been steady or declining in recent years. Increasing worldwide commitments, therefore, reflect the rapid growth of China's power sector since 1995, as well as new facilities in such developing countries as India, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and Iran. Plants in China and India represent 42 percent and 8 percent of committed future emissions, respectively.

About two-thirds of these emissions from the power sector are due to coal-burning stations. The share of commitments related to natural gas-fired generators -- which emit less CO2 per unit of energy than coal -- has escalated from about 15 percent in 1980 to 27 percent in 2012, as more such plants are being put into use. Davis and co-author Robert Socolow of Princeton suggest the findings could be used by policymakers to evaluate the long-term climate impacts of current investments in infrastructure.

"We've been hiding what's going on from ourselves: A high-carbon future is being locked in by the world's capital investments," said Socolow, professor emeritus of mechanical & aerospace engineering. "Current conventions for reporting data and presenting scenarios for future action need to give greater prominence to these investments. Such a rebalancing of attention will reveal the relentlessness of coal-based industrialization, long underway and showing no sign of abating."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California - Irvine. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Steven J Davis, Robert H Socolow. Commitment accounting of CO2emissions. Environmental Research Letters, 2014; 9 (8): 084018 DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/9/8/084018

Cite This Page:

University of California - Irvine. "Existing power plants will spew 300 billion more tons of carbon dioxide during use." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 August 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140826142443.htm>.
University of California - Irvine. (2014, August 26). Existing power plants will spew 300 billion more tons of carbon dioxide during use. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 25, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140826142443.htm
University of California - Irvine. "Existing power plants will spew 300 billion more tons of carbon dioxide during use." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140826142443.htm (accessed January 25, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Science & Society News

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola Mistakes Should Serve a Lesson Says WHO

Ebola Mistakes Should Serve a Lesson Says WHO

AFP (Jan. 25, 2015) — The World Health Organization&apos;s chief on Sunday admitted the UN agency had been caught napping on Ebola, saying it should serve a lesson to avoid similar mistakes in future. Duration: 00:55 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Technology Is Ruining Snow Days For Students

How Technology Is Ruining Snow Days For Students

Newsy (Jan. 25, 2015) — More schools are using online classes to keep from losing time to snow days, but it only works if students have Internet access at home. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama Reveals Nuclear Breakthrough on Landmark India Trip

Obama Reveals Nuclear Breakthrough on Landmark India Trip

Reuters - News Video Online (Jan. 25, 2015) — In a glow of bonhomie, U.S. President Barack Obama and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveil a deal aimed at unlocking billions of dollars in nuclear trade. Pavithra George reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Florida Might Legalize Black Bear Hunting

Florida Might Legalize Black Bear Hunting

Newsy (Jan. 24, 2015) — A string of black bear attacks has Florida officials considering lifting the ban on hunting the animals to control their population. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Science & Society

Business & Industry

Education & Learning

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins