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Weekly data: Natural gas may obstruct Biden’s goal of carbon-free electricity by 2035

The US electricity sector has 14 years to decarbonise to meet Joe Biden's target, but natural gas still forms a major part of the country’s power pipeline.

US President Joe Biden campaigned and won the November 2020 US elections on a bold platform for a sustainable economic recovery, a key aspect of which is a carbon-free power sector by 2035.

The BP-Husky Toledo refinery in Oregon, Ohio, US, June 2017. (Photo by Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Energy Monitor’s Weekly data looks at the net change in electricity generation capacity from July 2020 to July 2022, to assess progress towards this goal in real time. Renewable energy sources are skyrocketing, with close to 30GW due to be added to the grid, data from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) shows.

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Coal-fired generation fell by 20% in 2020 compared with 2019 and is unlikely to recover to pre-pandemic levels. However, natural gas is set to experience growth of close to 9GW in a single calendar year.

Natural gas contributes 21% to the world’s energy-related CO2 emissions and the latest modelling from the International Energy Agency says gas consumption in 2050 should be 55% lower than today in a net-zero pathway. Nevertheless, investments in gas continue. In the US, most of these are in the states of Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

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For now, natural gas remains the dominant source of US electricity generation.

Mirela Petkova

Mirela Petkova is a researcher based in Sofia, Bulgaria.