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08/13/2009 11:22 AM     print story email story         Page: 1  | 2  | 3  | 4  

Weekly Clean Energy Roundup: August 13, 2009

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  • Energy-Related CO2 Emissions Projected to Drop 5% in 2009!
  • Obama Approves $2B Extension for "Cash for Clunkers"
  • DOE: $2.4B for U.S. Batteries and Electric Vehicles
  • DOE: $377M to 46 Energy Frontier Research Centers
  • Northwestern Transmission Line to Carry 575 MW of Wind
  • USDA Proposes Consumer Label for Biobased Products

    Energy-Related CO2 Emissions Projected to Drop 5% in 2009

    U.S. CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels are projected to drop 5% in 2009, according to DOE's Energy Information Administration (EIA).

    The EIA's "Short-Term Energy Outlook," released yesterday, projects annual energy-related CO2 emissions the first time. Economic downturns are generally bad news, but they're great for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, because businesses and industries use less energy, and people generally drive less.

    In 2008, US energy-related CO2 emissions dropped 3.2% - the trend is expected to deepen this year. Energy-related CO2 emissions are the dominant greenhouse gases (GHG) emitted in the US, so overall GHG emissions generally follow the same trend.

    Breaking it down by fossil fuel, the EIA expects CO2 emissions from petroleum to decline 4% in 2009, primarily due to lower consumption of jet fuel and fuel oil, with motor fuel consumption holding steady. Emissions from burning natural gas should drop 2.3% because of lower electricity production, while emissions from burning coal should drop 7.9% because of declining industrial use and electric utilities switching to other fuels.

    Looking ahead to 2010, the EIA sees a 0.7% increase in energy-related CO2 emissions as the economy improves. Increased coal and natural gas consumption will push coal emissions up by 1.1% and natural gas emissions up by 0.5%. And even though transportation fuel consumption is expected to increase by 1.5% in 2010, the growth in biofuels is expected to hold the growth in CO2 emissions to only 0.6%. See the EIA's "Short-Term Energy Outlook."

    President Obama Approves $2 Billion Extension for "Cash for Clunkers"

    President Obama signed a bill last week that directs another $2 billion to the "Cash for Clunkers" program, officially known as the Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS). Originally funded at $1 billion, dealers began providing rebates starting July 1. The program proved popular, raising concerns that the rebates would need to be halted in early August.

    To keep the program going, Congress hurried to pass H.R. 3435, which draws $2 billion from the DOE Innovative Technology Loan Guarantee Program, under the assumption that DOE will not spend all the money allocated to that program by the end of the year. The funds are available to the CARS program through September 30, 2010. See the White House announcement of the signing and the full text of the bill on the Library of Congress' Thomas website.

    Although critics of the program thought the fuel economy requirements were too weak, July results indicate that people are voluntarily purchasing more fuel-efficient vehicles than required by the program. As noted by President Obama, "the initial transactions are generating a more than 50% increase in fuel economy; they are generating $700 to $1,000 in annual savings for consumers in reduced gas costs alone; and they are getting the oldest, dirtiest, and most air-polluting trucks and SUVs off the road for good."

    Those results also drew support for the added funds from the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE), which noted that vehicles purchased under the program are averaging close to 10 miles per gallon better than the vehicles they are replacing. See the President's statement and the ACEEE press release on the funding extension.

    The program also had a noticeable impact on vehicle sales in July; the seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of car and light truck sales for July reached 11.24 million vehicles. The SAAR adjusts the monthly sales data to account for seasonal lulls and surges in sales, and extends it for the full year. The SAAR for U.S. car and light truck sales fell from 12.57 million in September 2008 to 10.82 million the following month and remained below 10 million for the first six months of this year, before reviving in July.

    Sales are still down from July 2008, although Ford Motor Company saw a 10.3% year-to-year increase in car sales, which it credited to the rebate program. Honda  and GM also saw increased sales of their fuel-efficient vehicles, and Volkswagen saw increased sales of its clean diesel vehicles.

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