New England CO2 emissions spike after Vermont Yankee nuclear closure
Carbon emissions are plummeting around the country, but New England’s increase highlights the importance of nuclear plants in the power mix as the resource currently struggles in several organized markets. The new report is a stark reminder than allowing cheaper gas to push nuclear out of the market could ultimately drive up emissions, and that market tweaks are likely necessary to address the issue.
Between 2014 and 2015, New England said it experienced a 15% decrease in production from non-emitting generators, largely on the loss of more than 600 MW from Vermont Yankee. Gas-fired generation increased by about 5,750 GWh, or about 12%, in 2015.
Coal-fired generation fell by about 23% in 2015, the report notes, consistent with the approximately 270 MW of coal-fired-generation that retired in 2014. And more retirements are expected in the near-term. While it makes up a smaller portion of the generation mix, oil-fired power has continued a clear trend upwards, experiencing a 174 GWh boost in 2015.
“The increase came largely in January, February, and March—the same months that natural-gas-fired generation made its lowest contributions for the year,” the ISO said in a statement. “This phenomenon largely reflects winter-time constraints on the interstate pipelines bringing natural gas into the region.”
The news is not all bad, however. The ISO said total emissions for sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides declined from 2001 to 2015 by 95% and 68%, respectively, while CO2 emissions decreased by 24%…..