The shale-gas boom in the United States won’t, by itself, keep driving down U.S. carbon-dioxide emissions in the years ahead. That's because, in addition to killing off coal-fired plants, cheap gas will also crowd out cleaner energy sources like wind, solar, and nuclear, according to a recent Washington Post article.
The article reports on a new report from Stanford's Energy Modeling Forum, which convened 50 experts and 14 different modeling teams from industry, academia, and government to look at how the surge in natural-gas production could transform the U.S. economy.
Here are two of the report’s key findings, as reported by the Washington Post.
• The Stanford report authors offered different opinions on the price outlook for natural gas. “Some experts expect natural-gas prices to stay roughly flat between now and 2020, going from $4 per thousand cubic feet today to around $4.03 by the end of the decade,” the article states. “Others expect a sharper jump upward to $6.23 per thousand cubic feet by 2020 and even higher thereafter.”
• Natural gas has displaced coal power in the U.S. power sector and helped reduce U.S. carbon emissions. “Yet many of the experts in the Stanford study don’t expect carbon emissions to keep falling — at least not without further policy changes,” the article states. “That’s because cheap natural gas is also likely to displace even cleaner sources of energy like nuclear, wind, and solar. What’s more, low natural-gas prices will discourage efforts to conserve energy and boost efficiency.”
The article notes that the Stanford report does not account for methane leaks from natural gas operations, which the Washington Post called “a potent source of greenhouse gases in their own right.”
To read the Washington Post article, click here.