FutureMetrics publishes updated white paper on CPP importance

By Katie Fletcher | September 07, 2016

FutureMetrics LLC recently published a white paper authored by company president William Strauss that reviews the impacts of increased carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration in the atmosphere; offers thoughts on carbon policy; and discusses the Clean Power Plan and its role in contributing to a more decarbonized future.

This white paper is significantly updated from an earlier paper entitled “Why the Opponents of the Clean Power Plan Should Change their Minds.”

Strauss began this updated version writing about anthropomorphic CO2 and the consequence of a fossil fuel dependent global economy. According to the paper, “CO2 concentrations in recent decades is unprecedented in measurable geologic history.” The increase from about 275 parts per million beginning in the early 1800s to now is “dramatic in both magnitude and in the rate of increase, particularly since the 1950s,” FutureMetrics data illustrated. In 2016, EPA’s climate change indicators in the U.S. show CO2 concentration around 400 ppm. The dramatic increase in CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere since 1950 coincides with the rapid increase in fossil fuels.

Strauss also provided data that suggests the increase in CO2 emissions from fossil fuel use parallels with the increase in land and ocean temperatures. According to the white paper, the data suggests we are “rapidly moving into a period, recently coined the Anthropocene, in which the byproducts of our dependence on fossil fuels are causing changes that will be highly disruptive to our future.”

One of the main points Strauss made in the paper is that “our future energy mix will be based increasingly on continuously renewing carbohydrate-based fuels and less on non-renewable hydrocarbons.”

He added that it’s difficult to envision a future that is not dependent on solid and liquid hydrocarbon fuels mined from earth, and he emphasized that FutureMetrics would never advocate for any strategy that “rapidly eliminates fossil fuels.” However, they do advocate for recognizing the problem of CO2 concentrations from fossil fuel combustion and its effects on the planet, and then “rationally and pragmatically planning for the long gentle off-ramp to a decarbonized future.” FutureMetrics has published a number of white papers on this subject, including this one published last year.

Strauss included how the U.S. via the CPP can help decarbonize the power sector. “The CPP, while setting goals for 2030, provides great flexibility to the states regarding their compliance strategy and the timing of the deployment of those strategies.”

FutureMetrics supports cofiring wood pellets with coal to lower carbon emissions. According to the white paper, every ton of wood pellet fuel sourced from sustainable working forests that replaces coal in a power station can lower CO2 emissions by up to 90 percent. Utilizing wood pellets in power plants is well established in some countries, and total demand in 2015 is reported to be around 13.6 million metric tons. The U.K. takes up 43 percent of that demand or around 5.8 million metric tons.

The U.S. is the leading global supplier of industrial wood pellets that are certified to be produced from sustainable renewing sources, and in 2016, total forecast North American exports is around 9.75 million metric tons. Strauss shared in his paper that the U.S. could “very easily supply its own coal power stations with the same renewable solid fuel as it supplies to Europe and England.” However, this opportunity relies on a number of factors, including the pending implementation of the Clean Power Plan.

The full white paper can be downloaded on FutureMetrics’ website.