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Fifteen years ago, the US Energy Information Administration issued a forecast predicting that emissions from the US energy sector would increase from 2,400 million tonnes in 2005 to 3,000 million tonnes by 2020.
But the real outcome turned out to be a lot better, a new report shows.
When a group of American researchers examined emissions in 2020, it turned out that they had dropped instead of having increased, as was forecasted back in 2005. And the difference was not insignificant. The total emissions coming from the US energy sector amounted to 1,450 million tonnes in 2020. That is 52 percent less emissions than the 2005 forecast predicted.
A number of other figures also show that the reality was better than in the forecast. The cost for electricity 2020 for example, turned out to be 18 percent lower than in the forecast.
One particular parameter of the forecast was daunting- the forecast predicted 30,000 premature deaths per year due to air pollution. But in reality, the death toll remained at 3,100. That is largely due to the fact that emissions from coal and oil, which contain harmful gases, were much lower than expected.
Energy production from coal and oil was 70 percent below what the researchers predicted in the 2005 forecast.
Renewables are the explanation
The big difference between the forecast and reality is the capacity of renewable energy and natural gas.
Renewables produced 79 percent more, and natural gas 112 percent more than expected. The electricity consumption is 24 percent below the forecast. Awareness and more energy-efficient products on the market have probably played their part on that figure.
The transition to renewable energy has also provided more jobs. 29 percent more people work in the energy sector than the forecast predicted. Although the number of people working with coal power has more than halved, it is more than compensated by all those who now work with renewable electricity.
According to the researchers behind the report, there are major challenges ahead before the United States is carbon neutral and a long way to go before coal power is no longer produced. But the fact that it was possible to halve emissions in 15 years compared to what the research said in 2005 shows that it is definitely possible the researchers say.