4 New Ways America Is Number 1 In Energy

How did the United States, at 242 years of age, become the new world leader in oil and gas production and at the same time, the new world leader in reducing carbon emissions? In part because of the U.S.'s two other new accomplishments in the energy sector, according to the executive director of the International Energy Agency.
According to IEA's Fatih Birol, all four of the United States' recent energy accomplishments are closely related:
1. Oil & Gas
The IEA recently undertook a five-year outlook for the natural-gas market.
"Our numbers show that the U.S. will be the undisputed leader of oil and gas production growth for many years to come," Birol said last week in an appearance at the Brookings Institution. "The numbers are very impressive, I can tell you that."
In 2019 alone, 75 percent of the growth in global oil is expected to come from the United States, Birol said, and specifically from the hydraulic fracturing of shale. That number could go higher if oil prices go higher. As the U.S. exerts dominance, Birol expects oil prices to don a cap:
"I think the U.S. coming into the picture set a ceiling to how high the prices can go up," he said, because "if there is a high price, it will induce more U.S. oil."
The only obstacle Birol sees to U.S. dominance is pipeline constraint. "There is one problem we have in the United States, mainly the capacity of the pipelines," he said. "We need to make more investment and we need to open the way for new pipeline infrastructure development there."
The U.S. boom is so strong that it will threaten the economies of countries that have relied too heavily on gas and oil production, and it will give leverage to importing countries even if they don't buy from the U.S. When importers in Europe and Asia negotiate with producers in Russia and the Middle East, they now have the option of buying from the U.S. instead.
"The U.S. is coming and this will be felt from the trade floors to the geopolitics of energy, from the geopolitics of energy to the other exporters, and also many importers who will not even import one molecule of American gas will benefit from that."
More after the jump:
2. Emissions Reductions
Considering all of this new and often leaky oil and gas production in the United States, IEA analysts were surprised to find the U.S. continued to reduce its carbon emissions in 2017, when emissions worldwide went up.
"I can tell you something," Birol said. "I don’t know if it’s good or bad news. Some countries increased, some countries decreased in the world. The largest decline of CO2 emissions in the world came from the United States. Just for the records. We just looked at the numbers. This is something that I think we need to see, and it is something important to underline and look at behind the rhetoric."
IEA released its findings on emissions in a March report (pdf):
Global energy-related CO2 emissions grew by 1.4% in 2017, reaching a historic high of 32.5 gigatonnes (Gt), a resumption of growth after three years of global emissions remaining flat. The increase in CO2 emissions, however, was not universal. While most major economies saw a rise, some others experienced declines, including the United States, United Kingdom, Mexico and Japan. The biggest decline drop came from the United States, mainly because of higher deployment of renewables."
PetersenDean Inc. employees install solar panels on the roof of a home in Lafayette, California,… [+] U.S., on Tuesday, May 15, 2018. California became the first state in the U.S. to require solar panels on almost all new homes. Most new units built after Jan. 1, 2020, will be required to include solar systems as part of the standards adopted by the California Energy Commission. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg
3. Renewables Deployment
The decline in U.S. emissions is generally attributed to the closing of coal power plants in favor of cleaner and cheaper natural gas. And China is usually regarded as the world leader in renewables deployment. Last year, China installed more than half of the world's 98 gigawatts of new solar capacity. But even more growth came from wind energy, and the IEA attributes America's leadership in carbon emissions to America's leadership in clean-energy deployment:
The biggest decline came from the United States, where emissions dropped by 0.5%, or 25 Mt, to 4,810 Mt of CO2, marking the third consecutive year of decline. While coal-to-gas switching played a major role in reducing emissions in previous years, last year the drop was the result of higher renewables-based electricity generation and a decline in electricity demand. The share of renewables in electricity generation reached a record level of 17%, while the share of nuclear power held steady at 20%."
4. Energy R&D
The IEA tracks the progress of 38 clean-energy technologies. So far, only three of them are making progress sufficient to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement: solar energy, electric vehicles and smart grids.
"The other 35 are either doing so-so or are completely off track," Birol said.
Investment in energy research and development was almost flat for the last four years, according to IEA statistics, but in 2017 it increased by 13 percent.
"The biggest jump in terms of the clean-energy technologies came from the United States," Birol said, "followed by some European countries and China."

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