A new report from the Grantham Institute on Climate Change and Environment at the London School of Economics weighs the pros and cons of the United Kingdom using more natural gas for power generation.
Titled, A UK ‘dash’ for smart gas, the new report examines two key aspects influencing the natural gas debate in the UK:
• Interest in a renewed ‘dash’ for gas-generated power, motivated by the belief that there will be an abundant future supply of natural gas which will offer a sustainable price advantage over other forms of electricity generation; and
• Interest in a ‘dash’ to exploit indigenous shale gas resources, motivated by the prospect of increased energy security and reduced exposure to international energy price volatility.
Researchers said using hydraulic fracturing for shale gas development could reduce emissions from the energy industry. However, the report also cautioned that the availability of natural gas may be limited and therefore expensive.
"The impending closure of several aging power stations, together with heightened interest in the potential benefits of shale gas, is increasing the appeal of natural gas as a way of enhancing energy security, lowering energy prices and reducing emissions," the report stated. “Yet, environmental concerns and large uncertainty about the future price and availability of natural gas give cause for caution."
Natural gas-fueled power generation emits 57 percent less carbon dioxide per kilowatt-hour than coal, the researchers note. Yet, converting coal-fired power plants to gas-fired facilities would also go against the UK’s clean energy goals of being "virtually decarbonized" by 2030.
The report concludes that paramount in guiding the UK toward building a successful energy portfolio are a “coherent energy policy” and “maintaining options” to ensure a future power system which is reliable, cost-efficient and environmentally sustainable.
Access the report here:
'A dash for ‘smart gas’? The future role of natural gas in UK electricity generation' (PDF, 1.45MB)