Natural Gas Power Generation
At its most basic, natural gas is essentially stored solar energy. It is an organic compound formed when deposits of buried plants and animals are exposed over thousands of years to intense heat and pressure. The energy these organisms obtained from the sun during their lifetimes is stored in the form of carbon in natural gas. When combusted, the energy stored in natural gas is transformed into usable power.
Why Natural Gas?
No other fuel source is more readily available, or better suited, to meet the United States’ growing demand for energy. Natural gas is the clear alternative when it comes to providing our nation with a clean, dependable supply of electricity. Here’s why:
Clean — Natural gas is a cleaner choice for thermal power generation. Compared to coal, natural gas can reduce CO2 emissions by up to 60 percent, has 80% less NOx and virtually no SO2, mercury or particulate emissions. Natural gas-fueled generation also consumes 40 to 60 percent less fresh water than electricity produced from coal.
Abundant — According to the America’s Natural Gas Alliance, the United States has more natural gas reserves than Saudi Arabia has oil. In 2011, in fact, the United States bypassed Russia as the world’s largest producer of natural gas. More importantly, our natural gas reserves — estimated as a growing 100-year supply — are domestically located, providing the United States with an important source of energy security.
Reliable — Unlike many forms of renewable energy, natural gas-fueled generation isn’t intermittent. A combined-cycle generating station will continue to produce electricity even if the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing. Because renewable generation IS intermittent, grid operators MUST have an electricity supply that can be quickly dispatched in the event a large amount of renewable- based electricity suddenly drops off the grid. As a result, natural gas generation is a good dance partner for wind and solar power, helping to make these industries possible.
Cost effective — A natural gas-fueled generating facility is less than half as expensive to build as a coal plant and at least a fourth as expensive as a nuclear plant. (It is also much less, on a per kilowatt basis, than a wind or solar facility.) In addition, a natural gas power plant takes far less time to permit and build. This makes it possible to pass lower electricity prices on to consumers.
Creates jobs — Natural gas is an American job creator. According to America’s Natural Gas Alliance and the American Petroleum Institute, natural gas is produced in 32 states, directly employs more than 600,000 people, supports the employment of nearly 3 million Americans (in all 50 states) and adds approximately $385 billion per year to the national economy.
Ready today — Having an abundant, domestically produced and clean source of energy isn’t a far-off vision of the future, it’s a present reality. Unlike for other forms of energy, the infrastructure to power America is already right here, right now. According to the American Gas Association, there are about 2.4 million miles of pipeline infrastructure in the United States delivering natural gas to more than 177 million Americans every day.
Natural Gas is the Clear Choice for Clean, Reliable Power Generation