Follow me on Twitter: @JohnHQuigley

Friday, September 20, 2013

UCS: There’s a climate ceiling on natgas use for electricity

A new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists affirms what other smart energy thinkers and the International Energy Agency have concluded: that a transition from a coal- to a natural gas-dominated electricity system would not be sufficient to meet U.S. climate goals. Instead, UCS finds that a diversified electricity system—with much greater roles for renewable energy and energy efficiency and a “modest” role for natural gas— would “both limit the threat of climate change and mitigate the risks of an overdependence on natural gas.

Gas Ceiling: Assessing the Climate Risks of an Overreliance on Natural Gas for Electricity asks the question: is there an appropriate role for natural gas in a low carbon future?

The answer is yes – but a qualified one. Steve Clemmer, UCS’  director of energy research, Clean Energy, writes about the study in this blog:
While simply replacing coal with natural gas in the electricity sector would not be an effective long-term climate strategy, natural gas does offer some important advantages in the near to medium term. With sufficient regulatory oversight, burning natural gas instead of coal could help reduce air pollution, providing immediate public health and environmental benefits.  And because natural gas generators can be ramped up and down quickly, they could support the integration of wind and solar, provide increased flexibility to the electricity system, and continue to be used to meet peak demand. Natural gas plants that generate both heat and power— which are up to twice as efficient as plants that only generate electricity— and plants that deploy carbon capture and storage technology could also play a role in reducing global warming emissions from natural gas.
The UCS report makes a number of important policy recommendations on power plant emissions, clean energy, leveling the energy playing field, better resource planning, and a favorite of mine - stronger regulation of natgas production.  It's essential reading. 

There is a limited - and short-term - role for natural gas in a low carbon future.  Even with new regulations coming on GHG emissions from power plants, the role of natgas in our energy future can be larger and longer only if CCS is required on natgas plants.   

No comments:

Post a Comment