The innovative application of horizontal drilling technologies and hydraulic fracturing (sometimes called fracking) has vastly increased the amount of recoverable natural gas in the United States and elsewhere. These technologies are projected to keep the price of this lower-carbon fuel near historically low levels, which significantly alters the economics and politics of national energy and climate policy debates. Expanded use of gas in transportation, domestic manufacturing, and electricity is a likely outcome. This additional demand presents opportunities and challenges for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
To explore these issues, C2ES and the Energy Institute and Energy and Management Innovation Center at The University of Texas (UT) are jointly undertaking a rigorous examination of the potential climate benefits of increased natural gas use. The goal is to provide credible information to policymakers and stakeholders on ways that the natural gas boom can be leveraged to reduce GHG emissions in the U.S. and globally.
As an initial step, C2ES and UT convened a workshop on May 17, 2012, in Houston bringing together diverse stakeholders to examine options for increased use of gas. Participants included representatives of the business community (members of C2ES’s Business Environmental Leadership Council, UT’s business partners, and other companies); state government (energy departments, governors’ offices, and public utility commissions); and the environmental community.
As background for the workshop, C2ES and UT produced a series of working papers examining these issues across the U.S. economy and within key sectors:
- U.S. Natural Gas Overview of Markets and Uses
Natural gas plays a vital role in the U.S. economy, constituting 25 percent of total U.S. energy consumption and roughly one fifth of all U.S. electricity generation. This paper explores the history of natural gas prices, extraction technology advances, and market issues.
- Natural Gas Use in the Transportation Sector
While the transportation sector largely uses petroleum-based fuels today, natural gas can be used in a variety of forms in vehicles including: as compressed natural gas, as liquefied natural gas, through gas-to-liquids technologies, in fuel cells, or as a generation fuel for electricity for electric vehicles. This paper examines the potential for expanded use of natural gas in the transportation sector and its climate implications.
- Natural Gas in the U.S. Electric Power Sector
With the increasing likelihood of a carbon-constrained future, cleaner than coal emissions and forecasts of sustained low prices, natural gas has become the fuel of choice for electricity generation by utilities in the United States. This paper looks at the issues surrounding natural gas as a fuel for electricity generation including emissions, generation, policy decisions, and market supply.
- Natural Gas in the Industrial Sector
This paper examines how natural gas is used by the different segments of the industrial sector and the potential for expanded use in ways that reduce emissions, such as in highly efficient boilers and combined heat and power operations.
- The Looming Natural Gas Transition in the United States
Within one to two decades, natural gas has the potential to surpass petroleum as the dominant energy source in the United States. This paper lays out the underlying trends of natural gas in the current energy transition in the U.S. and the relationship between natural gas and renewable energy technologies.
- Natural Gas Infrastructure
There are more than 2.3 million miles of natural gas infrastructure in the United States in the form of gathering, transmission, and distribution pipelines. This paper examines the regional differences in infrastructure and expansion, direct emissions reductions from natural gas infrastructure and barriers to infrastructure development.
- Natural Gas in the Residential Sector
This paper examines energy use in residential buildings, site efficiency vs. full fuel cycle efficiency, the emissions of natural gas and electricity and barriers to increased residential natural gas access and utilization.
- Natural Gas in Commercial Buildings
This paper discusses commercial building emissions profiles as well as barriers to natural gas access and efficiency in the commercial sector.
- Distributed Generation and Emerging Technologies
The growing supply has put downward pressure on natural gas prices, making it an attractive and affordable energy source. Therefore, it is likely that natural gas consumption will increase in all sectors. This paper explores distributed generation and new ways to generated electricity, including microgrids, microturbines, fuel cells and Stirling engines. It also looks into policies to incentivize development of new technologies.
To provide feedback on these papers or for more information about the initiative, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
This initiative is made possible with the generous support of:
American Clean Skies Foundation, American Gas Association, Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation, and Energy Foundation