By Tom GlynnAssociated PressPublished Feb 06, 2019 06:23:03With gas prices rising as fast as the cost of renewable energy, natural gas will continue to be the cheapest form of power generation for decades to come.
But a recent surge in natural gas usage and the growing need for more energy to run electric cars has pushed the industry to consider the possibility of selling natural gas as a substitute for electricity generation.
Natural gas is more expensive than renewables, but it has a low carbon footprint.
In addition to its ability to produce electricity, natural fuel also provides much-needed water and energy for homes and businesses, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
That means it could also play a big role in a cleaner future.
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In 2017, more than 50% of the U.S. power grid was connected to natural gas and, according the NRDC, the demand for natural gas power generation has increased by nearly 20% since 2020.
That trend is expected to continue this year.
And by 2025, the NRD predicts that natural gas generation will be used to provide more than 40% of electricity in the U, with wind, solar and biomass as the next-most popular sources.
The NRDC is calling for a “rebalancing of our energy system away from fossil fuels” by 2030, and it wants to see more than 20% of U.M. electricity generated by natural gas come from natural gas-fired power plants.
“By 2030, we’ll be able to produce a large portion of our electricity from natural fuel,” said David Anderson, the chief technology officer of NRDC.
“If we can’t achieve that, then it’s going to cost a lot more to generate the same amount of electricity.”
“If you look at what the price is going to be, we’re talking about 10 or 20 times more energy,” Anderson added.
“We’re talking, by 2030 or so, you can actually double the energy that we can produce from renewables.”
Natural gas also has other benefits, such as the ability to make it more cost-effective to build new power plants than coal-fired plants.
The number of natural gas plants is growing rapidly.
According to NRDC’s analysis of the latest numbers, the average capacity factor for a natural gas plant is 4.8.
That is far above the 2.2 it used to be.
That means that for every 100 megawatts (MW) of new capacity added, about 1 MW of new carbon emissions are avoided, according NRDC calculations.
“If we could just do the right thing and replace those carbon emissions with natural gas we could create millions of new jobs, tens of thousands of new homes and millions of additional American families could be powered by a cleaner energy source,” said Anderson.
The Natural Resources Protection Council (NPSC), which represents the industry, believes natural gas is an effective alternative to fossil fuels, but the agency is not saying that it is ready to officially sell the natural fuel as a solution to climate change.
“The NRD does not have the resources to sell natural gas,” said NPSC Executive Director Paul Bedard.
“What it is saying is that there’s a real opportunity to do that and it’s a possibility that we have the capacity to pursue.”