Natural gas better than coal to cut CO2 emissions?

This entry was posted by Wednesday, 16 February, 2011
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Simon Henry, Chief financial officer at shell, claimed that gas-fired generators would be the cheapest and quickest way of plugging the gap in electricity supply as the UK closes nearly half its current power stations in the next ten to 15 years.

Expanding natural gas at the expense of coal is the fastest and most effective way to reduce CO2 emissions in the power sector over the next decade. Modern gas plants emit between 50 per cent and 70 per cent less CO2 than coal plants.

Undoubtedly, high efficiency natural gas-fired power stations can produce up to 70% lower greenhouse gas emissions than existing brown coal-fired generators, and less than half the greenhouse gas emissions of the coal-fired power stations using latest technology. The CO2 emissions from Natural Gas Combined Cycle (NGCC) plants are reduced relative to those produced by burning coal given the same power output because of the higher heat content of natural gas, the lower carbon intensity of gas relative to coal, and the higher overall efficiency of the NGCC plant relative to a coal-fired plant.

Because natural gas has been and still is a relatively cheap fuel, industry and governments have not been overly concerned about energy efficiency. With focus starting to shift and look at emissions, it is starting to be noticed. It still has a long way to go. There is a technology that has been available and used in North America called “Condensing flue gas heat recovery”. This technology is designed to increase the energy efficiency of natural gas and LPG appliances.

McKinsey in a consulting assignment describes gas as a clean, plentiful and relatively cheap form of energy. It challenges the idea that renewable forms of energy should be the primary way to cut emissions.

The supporters of renewable energy also acknowledge the fact that gas fired power plants produce less amount of greenhouse gases compared to coal or oil fired plants. The McKinsey report also talks about Europe’s own largely undeveloped shale gas resources that could meet the continent’s needs for 30 years based on current demand.

It is estimated that integrating carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology with gas fired power plants could cut emissions on gas-fired plants by 90 per cent if deployed, and that it would cost less when compared to the cost involved in installing wind or solar power plants to meet the same targets.

13 Responses to “Natural gas better than coal to cut CO2 emissions?”

  1. urika

    Natural gas could produce the same energy, pound for pound, as coal or wood with a fraction of the CO2 emissions in the case where coal or wood are replaced by gas-driven combined plants.

    Argues a blog. Read more at|head

  2. illione

    The initial estimate of technically recoverable shale gas resources in the 32 countries examined is 5,760 trillioncubic feet,.
    The U.S. estimate of the shale gas technically recoverable resources of 862 trillion cubic feet results in a total shale resource base estimate of 6,622 trillion cubic feet for the United States and the other 32 countries assessed.

    To put this shale gas resource estimate in some perspective, world proven reserves5of natural gas as of January 1, 2010 are about 6,609 trillion cubic feet,6 and world technically recoverable gas resources are roughly 16,000 trillion cubic feet,7largely excluding shale gas.

    Thus, adding the identified shale gas resources to other gas resources increases total world technically recoverable gas resources by over 40 percent to 22,600 trillion cubic feet.

  3. Ambiee

    If the natural gas industry wants to be “clean,” it should embrace policies that mean no pollution of groundwater, drinking water, or surface waters; stringent controls on air pollution, including greenhouse gas emissions; protection for no-go zones, like drinking watersheds and sacred and wild lands; and respect for landowner rights, including the right to say no to drilling on their property.

  4. amanda

    A delegation of leaders in research and energy policy from Poland visited West Virginia University Tuesday to learn about the natural gas industry and build the foundation of new partnerships.
    Poland recently discovered its own natural gas reserves encased in shale rock, much like the Marcellus Shale in West Virginia, and a delegation came visited the National Research Center for Coal and Energy to learn the do’s and don’ts of developing it.

  5. Ash Benzo

    Natural gas prices climbed more than 2 percent as President Barack Obama said he wanted the U.S. to use more of it instead of foreign oil.

    Obama announced that he wants to cut the country’s oil imports by a third by 2025. The president touted a series of initiatives, emphasizing that the U.S. could rely more on its own natural gas and biofuels to generate electricity and to power vehicles.

  6. Andrea

    The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) estimates that in the coming decades the United States’ natural gas (NG) demand for electricity generation will increase. Estimates also suggest that NG supply will increasingly come from imported liquefied natural gas (LNG). Additional supplies of NG could come domestically from the production of synthetic natural gas (SNG) via coal gasification−methanation.

  7. George

    Centralia coal fired power plant operated by Alberta based “TransAlta” in Washington is the state’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases accounting for 10% of the total emissions in state. After years of failed negotiations, the operators have agreed to stop burning coal.
    The company has planned to replace coal with natural gas as fuels to generate power, which is less polluting in nature. During the transition period of replacing coal with natural gas, the company is likely to add less expensive air-pollution control technology to cut back on haze-causing nitrogen oxide emissions.

    The existing coal fired plant will be demolished in a dozen of years from now and will be replaced by a new combustion technology and machinery for natural gas.

  8. Dr.Jun katsutoshi

    According to Tisha Schuller, president and CEO of the Colorado Oil & Gas Association, the natural gas industry in Colorado is continually improving its operations, including reducing emissions and they want to maximize the natural gas in the pipeline. Also natural gas power generation would reduce nitrogen oxide emissions upto 80 percent, sulfur dioxide emissions by 55 percent and mercury emissions by 30 percent.
    “Coal is cheap, and there are ways to reduce its carbon footprint, but progress seems to have been very slow on realizing the potential [of clean coal],” said Jeremy Boak, director of the Center for Oil Shale Technology and Research at Colorado School of Mines in Golden.

  9. Dr.Jun katsutoshi

    In a recent ad in the Denver Post (pdf), a political nonprofit coal industry front group called Affordable Reliable Energy Colorado loudly proclaimed “Natural Gas is not a carbon answer. The Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has forced an expensive natural gas-switching plan on the state that creates excessive costs and no environmental gain.”
    The recent Denver Post ad cited an assessment of the greenhouse gas footprint of natural gas drilling (pdf) y a professor of ecology and environmental biology at Cornell University.

  10. Dr.Jun katsutoshi

    Cornell univ says ” Using the best available science, we conclude that natural gas is no better than coal and may in fact be worse than coal in terms of its greenhouse gas footprint when evaluated over the time course of the next several decades.”–%20November%202010.pdf

  11. natalia peyton

    In the past few decades, natural gas fired power generation has phenomenal growth in the US power sector. The higher calorific value of natural gas, with 43% fewer CO2 emissions per MegaWatt Hour (MWh) relative to coal, and the improved efficiency of natural gas combined cycle power plants have been the major drivers of the growth of natural gas fired power generation in the US. Natural gas can potentially eliminate nearly one-third of the total carbon emissions of the US by 2030 through substituting coal in power generation.

  12. Margie Wylie

    Just because some research findings point towards reduced carbon dioxide emission by gas fired power plants, it is not logical to conclude that gas can be a substitute for renewable energy resources. gas and renewable energy sources should complement each other in achieving the twin objectives of energy security and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

  13. Mia franceska

    We in Australia will prefer a solution to mitigate CO2 from coal than a substitute for coal. Although I as an individual would appreciate the efforts to reduce CO2 overall using natural gas.

    I still wouldlike to find out the difference between coal and natural gas in emission.

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