A 21st Century Low-Carbon Transition in U.S. Electric Power: Extent, Contributing Factors, and Implications

Journal Article (Journal Article)

The U.S. electric power sector has experienced a substantial shift of the generation mix since the turn of the century, moving from heavy reliance on coal-powered generation to one drawing more from natural gas and, more recently, renewables. This transition has been forged by a mix of macroeconomic factors (recession and recovery); technological breakthroughs (horizontal drilling coupled with hydraulic fracturing; improvements in natural gas plant efficiency); clean energy policies at federal, state, and local levels of government; and private sector demands for carbon-free energy sources. These factors have combined to reduce carbon emissions from electric power generation substantially this century. In this article we examine the extent of this transition, its causes, as well as the distinct American institutional factors steering it, including energy and environmental federalism, electoral politics, and the political economy of clean energy policy enactment and resistance.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Murray, BC; Niver, WH

Published Date

  • May 1, 2020

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 37 / 3

Start / End Page

  • 412 - 438

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1541-1338

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1541-132X

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1111/ropr.12388

Citation Source

  • Scopus