The US Department of Energy has warned that a “new and unprecedented energy shortage” is threatening to destroy the US economy.
The statement comes on the heels of a report which warned that solar capacity could collapse in the US as a result of the country’s ongoing solar boom.
“It’s an extremely dangerous situation for the solar industry,” said the report, authored by the US Department on Energy’s (DOE) Energy Information Administration (EIA).
“It is a sign that solar power has reached its peak of production, but we cannot say with certainty that it will continue to grow.
This means that the industry will be in serious jeopardy if solar capacity does not expand at a steady rate.
If solar power is not growing, it will be replaced by natural gas, which will be a far worse driver of emissions, as methane is more than 10 times more potent than CO2.
That’s because methane is 20 times more stable than CO3, and will become a much bigger contributor to global warming.”
As part of its analysis, the EIA also looked at the effect of natural gas on the US electricity system.
It found that methane gas emissions from US power plants have grown significantly in recent years.
In 2017, the US emitted an estimated 9.4 million metric tons of methane, more than twice the level in 2012.
And according to the report’s authors, this growth in emissions is “almost certain to accelerate over the next five years as US natural gas use expands, particularly as states move towards more gas-fired generation.”
The report found that if the country continues to burn natural gas at current levels, methane emissions will surpass carbon dioxide emissions by 2025.
According to the study, if the US does not make changes to its energy infrastructure, it is highly likely that methane emissions from power plants will surpass CO2 emissions by 2030.
A similar scenario could play out in the UK, where the country is currently burning coal at about 400,000 tonnes per year.
At the moment, the government is working on a new energy strategy that would allow the country to “switch to 100% renewables”, the EEA warned.
But, according to an analysis published in September by the UK’s Energy and Climate Change Policy Institute, the country would need to increase the amount of renewable energy in its electricity mix from 6.4 gigawatts (GW) to 17.7 GW in just 25 years to match its current levels of emissions.
However, a spokesperson for the energy industry group RenewableUK said the organisation was “encouraged” by the EIE report.
EIA has also warned that the country could face a “significant” energy shortage if it does not reverse its decision to phase out coal.
Under the UK government’s plans, a total of 730,000 households would lose their energy bills in 2019, while another 7.5 million households would receive a rebate of about £8 billion ($13.5 billion).
In total, the Energy Bill would reduce energy bills by more than £30 billion ($49.4 billion), according to a spokesperson from the UK Office of Fair Trading.