In a February 18, 2022 news release, EPA acknowledged that emissions from power plants increased in 2021 from 2020 levels. EPA attributed the increase to “a rebound in coal-fired generation as natural gas prices and energy demand increased.”
Compared to 2020, NOx emissions increased 6%, SO2 increased 20%, CO2 increased 7%, and mercury increased 13%. However, compared to 2019 levels, “2021 emissions fell between 3% and 11%, reflecting the long-standing trend of decreasing annual emissions.”
Substantial Long-Term Declines in Emissions
From 1990 through 2021, “annual emissions of SO2 from power plants fell by 94% and annual emissions of NOX from power plants fell by 88%.” Also, “CO2 emissions from power plants dropped by 21% between 1995 and 2021.”
Declines Due to Fuel Changes
EPA identified “changes in the mix of fuels used in electricity generation” as the primary cause of emission reductions. This trend reversed slightly in 2021, due to “a one-year 16% increase in coal generation and a 3% decrease in natural gas generation,” although the long-term decline is expected to continue.
To see the news release https://www.epa.gov/newsreleases/epa-issues-power-plant-emissions-data-2021