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Let's Be More Positive About Natural Gas!

There will be ample U.S. natural gas supplies to support a 30 Tcf market by 2010.
Fortnightly Magazine - June 15 2002

technology range from 1,300 to 1,700 Tcf and those for Canada from 600 to 760 Tcf,5,6 which is certainly reassuring ().

Thus, I am confident that there will be ample U.S. natural gas supplies and Canadian and LNG imports to satisfy a gas market of about 30 Tcf/year by 2010, and 35 Tcf/year by 2020 at wholesale prices of $3.00-3.50/Mcf in constant 2000 dollars. As shown in Table 4, this corresponds to the most recent EIA projections. 7 In fact, I consider this to be at the low end of the potential gas market. Construction of a pipeline from Alaska to the lower 48 states to bring the large North Slope, Mackenzie River Delta, and other Canadian Frontier reserves to market would further improve this positive outlook, once the debate over the most suitable route has been settled. Some form of government subsidies will also be necessary because of the enormous cost of such a project. Substantial shifts of power generating capacity from old coal plants to new central, modular, and distributed natural gas technologies are not yet factored into these projections, as will be discussed below. Such a shift would result in cost-effective efficiency improvements and reductions in both conventional pollutant and "greenhouse gas" emissions. The EIA projections for natural gas consumption by electric generators and of delivered natural gas prices are shown in Table 5. The increase in natural gas consumption of about 6 Tcf/year between 2000 and 2020 represents only about one-half of the total increase. Please note that all data related to electric generation taken from the EIA's "Annual Energy Outlook 2002" 7 and cited in Tables 5 and 6 exclude cogenerators. When cogenerators are included, total natural gas consumption by all power generators in 2000 was 6.33 Tcf, 2 compared to 4.24 Tcf shown in Table 5. Another developing gas market with considerable promise may be hydrogen generation as a vehicular fuel for electromotive propulsion systems using fuel cells. 8

The projections of new U.S. gas-fired combined-cycle and simple combustion turbine capacity are the subject of considerable speculation because of the inherent uncertainties in the available data. Some industry sources claim that about 40 gigawatts (GW) came on line in 2001, and another 100 GW are under construction and should come on line before the end of 2003. The EIA seems to be more conservative. For its reference case forecast, it projects an increase of 29 GW in combined-cycle capacity and an increase of 27.2 GW in combustion turbine/diesel capacity between 2000 and 2005. There are no equivalent 2005 projections by EIA for its high economic growth case. Note also that there are no data that would allow a breakdown between EIA's combustion turbine and diesel capacity projections, although it can be assumed that most of the increases are for combustion turbines. As shown in Table 6, the total increase in such gas-fired generation between 2000 and 2020 is on the order of 300 GW, excluding cogenerators. What is most puzzling is the projection of a continuing increase in coal-fired capacity from 305 GW in 2000 to