An analysis of what risks would have to be taken to significantly reduce carbon emissions by using natural gas in the short run.
Henry Linden is Max McGraw Professor of Energy and Power Engineering, and director of the Energy + Power Center. Contact him at email@example.com.
In 2004, 52 percent of U.S. power supply was generated by about 310 GW of relatively inefficient coal-fired steam-electric capacity, which emitted 32 percent of U.S. anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2), or 517 million metric tons (mmt) of carbon. Clearly, a key objective in the relatively near term (i.e., by 2025-2030) should be to reduce this large source of anthropogenic carbon emissions in the form of CO2. The preferred option has been natural-gas-fired combined-cycle systems, which emit only about one-third as much carbon and have an investment cost of only about $500/kW. The systems also have a lower heating-value efficiency of 60 percent, which is equivalent to a heat rate of 6,300 Btu/kWh (higher heating value basis).