Thursday, June 6, 2013

New Study Finds Natural Gas Can Help To Cut Carbon Emissions But Raises Cautions: I highly Recommend Study

The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions gets two thumbs up for its report entitled "Leveraging Natural Gas To Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions.  It is an objective analysis from start to finish.

The report has a careful, accurate discussion of the methane leakage rate issue at page 3.  The report notes that new EPA regulations will cut substantially methane leakage in the gas production phase, and 37% of all methane leakage in the lifecycle of gas takes place in the gas production phase.  Continuing to cut methane leakage remains an important activity for regulators and companies.

The report further points out that gas cuts carbon emissions, when it displaces coal, or oil but does not do so were it to displace nuclear or renewables. And gas has been displacing coal and oil in the USA from 2000 to 2012, while wind and solar have boomed and are now significant energy sources in the USA and around the world.

The main purpose of the report is to recommend ways to maximize the carbon reducing opportunities presented by gas, while avoiding the displacement of renewables or nuclear by gas.  In the USA, currently gas and renewables are growing at the expense of coal and oil, though the most recent few months have seen coal actually regain from gas some lost generation market share.

To its credit, the report also states that natural gas alone is not a sufficient answer to our climate challenge. It can help, especially in the next 20 years, if used smartly but is far from a complete answer.  Moreover, maximizing the benefits of gas requires adding carbon capture and storage to at least gas-fired power plants in the decades ahead.

Hopefully, the passions over climate, fracking, and renewables won't crowd out reason and objective analysis. At any rate, this report is great factual analysis and devoid of polemics.  I strongly recommend it.

My former colleague, John Quigley, also likes this report and writes about it at his blog: