Natural gas power plants to be focus for energy sector

The North American Electric Reliability Corporation recently released a report suggesting that the future of the electricity industry lies largely with natural gas-fired generation.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that in 2009, the latest year with complete information, the country relied on natural gas for 23.3 percent of electricity generation and 39.1 percent of peak capacity.

However, NERC suggests that the majority of new projects will likely be primarily natural gas plants, in large part because of plentiful supplies coming from the development of shale gas reserves. Increasingly strict environmental regulations likely will also play an important role.

Unlike the coal industry, though, communication between the energy sector and the natural gas industry remains limited. Greater access to backup supplies and more reliable storage will be necessary for the country to ensure the reliability of its electrical grid.

"This report provides the foundation for both the gas and electric industries to work together, ensuring that sufficient infrastructure and operational coordination is in place to maintain bulk power system reliability," Mark Lauby, vice president and director of Reliability Assessment and Performance Analysis at NERC, said in a statement.

More information on the challenges facing the U.S. natural gas sector can be found at PennEnergy's Research area.

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