Natural gas continues its rise as the nation’s largest share of electricity generation after first surpassing coal-fired generation in 2016. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), natural gas accounted for 38% of total electricity generation in 2019, followed by 23% for coal. The EIA points out that new natural gas generation capacity additions have continued to displace coal-fired power plants, and that in 2019, about 5% of U.S. coal-fired capacity was retired due to closing plants. And as natural gas beats coal in the supply of energy, the environment is benefiting as well.
A Good Switch for the Planet
In terms of environmental sustainability, Forbes Magazine sees this switch from coal to natural gas as a positive transition. In terms of factors that successfully reduce greenhouse gas emissions, they point at “…the ability of natural gas to displace coal in the power generation sector. Augmented by having few criteria pollutants, gas has 50% less CO2 emissions than coal. Gas is also the backup for intermittent renewables, making it an essential resource for more wind and solar development.”
S&P Global reports that 2019 was a better year for carbon emissions, too—they dropped in the U.S. by 3%, “as natural gas and renewables continued to expand their share of the country’s power mix.”
Moving in the Right Direction
This news continues an encouraging trend. A recent study by researchers at Stanford University, looking at the six-year period from 2008 to 2014, found that as the nation’s emissions dropped, health damages dropped 20%, and damage to the nation’s economy from emissions also dropped from $1 trillion to $719 billion. The study points to three factors that helped these changes: the use of air pollution control technologies, the recent closure of coal power plants, and fuel switching to natural gas.
Forbes calls switching to gas the “lowest-hanging fruit in the climate fight” and the fastest way to claim further significant carbon reductions. They point out that since 2008, surging shale production in the U.S., which resulted in lower gas costs, doubled gas’ share in power generation to nearly 40%, while cutting coal’s share in half. In turn, “the U.S. has become the global leader in CO2 reduction.”
A Switch You Can Make
As an abundant, cheaper, cleaner-burning fuel source than coal, natural gas can help cut both costs and emissions for facilities worldwide, through energy solutions like Combined Heat and Power (CHP) systems. CHP, long touted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), can power a facility using less fuel than electricity, reducing carbon emissions, and providing independence from aging power grids during times of power emergency or instability.
As one of the EPA’s trusted partners, Aegis Energy’s CHP systems have been installed in over 1,000 facilities across the nation. Using natural gas to produce heat and electricity, our CHP systems provide operational efficiency of 85%, versus the average 30% efficiency of traditional central power plants.
With increasing state and local regulations tightening carbon emission standards, more than ever, now is the right time to take your facility into greener territory, both through lowered costs and increased sustainability. Contact us to learn how you can get started.