Engineering is also making the growth generation, from natural gas, more efficient. While the heat rate for other energy sources (the required energy input to create electricity) has remained relatively stable, the heat rate for natural gas dropped 19% between 2001 and 2011.
The improvements in controlling emissions of SO2 and NOx are impressive, as is the increased efficiency in generating electricity with natural gas and improving the amount of generation that ends up being purchased by a customer. These accomplishments appear to me the result of people performing their work better.
Incremental improvement in efficiency, and reducing emissions, are not the glamorous tales the mainstream media, and powerful politicians, are trying to get people to hear, but they are important stories from the telling data.
Notes Natural gas generation continued it's ascent in 2012, and a number of claims in the media are based on preliminary 2012 figures. The 2012 reporting is far less comprehensive than the 2011 annual data I am reviewing (released late in January 2013.
 I utilize the following years as important benchmarks:
- 1990 is the benchmark year for the Kyoto protocol, so a lot of reporting is as of 1990
- 1997 is the year the Kyoto protocol was negotiated (with 1990 being a negotiated base year favouring Europe), so comparing to 1997 provides a more realistic picture of changes due to the emphasis on reducing emissions
- 2005 is the year annual consumption peaked in my province (Ontario)