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Coal No More: What If?

An analysis of what risks would have to be taken to significantly reduce carbon emissions by using natural gas in the short run.

Fortnightly Magazine - September 2006

[8] and should add to the sources of greater stability for natural-gas prices in 2006/2007.

From 1994 through 2004 there was only one year (1998) in which U.S. natural-gas replacement did not exceed—often by a considerable margin—annual production of 18-20 Tcf/yr (see Table 6, Parts 1 and 2). Moreover, 2005 should be a banner year with a record of 27,397 gas well completions and a record average active rig count of 1,186.

In any event, the electric power industry will have to use caution in making natural-gas-fired combined-cycle power generation its preferred choice to reduce carbon emissions and meet demand increases. The uncertain outlook for natural-gas supplies and prices calls for increased reliance on wind power and new light water nuclear power, as well as accelerated commercialization of the IGCC process modified to convert the output to a hydrogen-CO 2 mixture with CO 2 removal and sequestration.


This author gratefully acknowledges the support of the Illinois Institute of Technology Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering and of Gas Technology Institute for much of the underlying research for this article.



1. Natural Gas Week, Vol. 22, No. 21, May 18, 2006, p. 6.

2. “Evaluation of Innovative Fossil Fuel Power Plants with CO 2 Removal,”

Electric Power Research Institute, Palo Alto, Calif., and U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Fossil Energy, Germantown, Md., and National Energy Technology Laboratory, Pittsburgh, PA., Interim Report, DocumentNo. 000316, December 2000. Prepared by Parsons Energy Group, Inc. and Wolk Integrated Technical Services.

3. Annual Energy Outlook 2006 With Projections to 2030, Energy Information Administration, Office of Integrated Analysis and Forecasting, U.S. Department of Energy, February 2006, Document No. DOE/EIA-0383(2006)

4. Op. Cit., AEO2004.

5. Annual Energy Outlook 2005 With Projections to 2025, Energy Information Administration, Office of Integrated Analysis and Forecasting, U.S. Department of Energy, February 2005, Document No. DOE/EIA-0383(2005).

6. Op. cit., AEO2006, p. 155, Table A-13.

7. Natural Gas Week, Vol. 22, No. 16, April 17, 2006, p. 5.

8. Natural Gas Week, Vol. 22, No. 20, May 15, 2006, p. 5.