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EGEB: US power use to drop 3.4% due to COVID-19 in 2020

  • US electricity consumption will drop 3.4% in 2020 due to coronavirus lockdowns.
  • Gas flaring in the US has declined by 70% in the last 12 months.
  • Visa announces a $500 million green bond offering.
  • Arcadia Power is committed to making clean energy work for the planet and your bank account — all without changing your utility company. Sign up to receive your $20 Amazon Gift Card.

US energy consumption drop

The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Tuesday in its Short-Term Energy Outlook that US electricity consumption will drop 3.4% in 2020. This is due to COVID-19 lockdowns causing businesses to close. When it comes to green energy, the report says:

EIA forecasts that renewable energy will be the fastest-growing source of electricity generation in 2020. EIA expects the electric power sector will add 23.2 gigawatts (GW) of new wind capacity and 12.9 GW of utility-scale solar capacity in 2020. However, these future capacity additions are subject to a high degree of uncertainty, and EIA continues to monitor reported planned capacity builds.

Both nuclear and renewables will top coal for the first time in 2020. On the fossil-fuel front, Reuters reports:

EIA said natural gas’ share of generation will rise from 37% in 2019 to 40% in 2020 before dropping to 35% in 2021 as gas prices increase. Coal’s share will slide from 24% in 2019 to 18% in 2020 before rising to 22% in 2021.

US gas flaring drops

According to the Earth Observation Group at the Payne Institute for Public Policy, gas flaring in the US has declined by 70% in the last 12 months, despite hitting its highest level in a decade last year, according to the Financial Times.

Investors drove the drop by demanding greater capital discipline from a sector that has earned a reputation for prioritizing growth, and as a result, activity has dropped, particularly among smaller operators who don’t have the capital to improve environmental outcomes. The shale sector is also expected to be consolidated.

In 2018, drilling began to slow along with a dropping oil price. (This included drilling in the Permian basin, where half of US tight oil production occurs.) In August 2019, completion activity peaked at 1,425 wells. In May 2020, 461 wells were completed.

Gas flaring, which is the controlled burning of natural gas used to regulate pressure in plants, generates a significant amount of greenhouse gases that contribute to overall global warming.

Visa’s sustainability initiatives

Global payments technology giant Visa has announced a $500 million green bond offering. A green bond is a type of fixed-income instrument that funds climate and environmental projects. It’s believed to be the first green bond issued by a digital payments network.

Further, the company also announced the hiring of its first chief sustainability officer, Douglas Sabo.

Visa Chairman and CEO Al Kelly said:

Our green bond offering will help us accelerate the transformation of our infrastructure and operations to reach our environmental goals. This commitment extends to appointing Visa’s first chief sustainability officer, tasked with ensuring we continue to take bold and industry-leading actions on the environment.

In June, Visa announced the Earthwise High Content Card, which is made up of up to 98% “upcycled” plastic. And in January, Visa reached its goal to use 100% green electricity by 2020 by purchasing energy that uses sources like solar and wind.

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Avatar for Michelle Lewis Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis is a writer and editor on Electrek and an editor on DroneDJ, 9to5Mac, and 9to5Google. She lives in St. Petersburg, Florida. She has previously worked for Fast Company, the Guardian, News Deeply, Time, and others. Message Michelle on Twitter or at Check out her personal blog.