Carpe Diem

Energy milestone: For the first time ever, natural gas and coal had the same share of electricity generation in April

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The Energy Information Administration reported this week that for the first time since it began keeping monthly records, “natural gas and coal had the same share of total net generation of electricity at 32% during April 2012 (see chart above).”

This is one more reason that America’s natural gas windfall represents “one of the most important developments for the economy in the last 60 years,” as I reported earlier this week.  In the process of creating thousands of jobs and saving natural gas customers billions of dollars, the shale revolution has also significantly reduced carbon emissions as electricity producers have switched from dirty coal to clean, cheap natural gas.  It’s really no exaggeration to say that the United States “hit the energy jackpot” with shale gas.

MP: Let’s sum up some of the many economic and environmental benefits of the shale gas windfall:

1.  Residential, commercial, industrial and electricity-generating customers of natural gas have saved $250 billion over the last three years because of abundant, low-cost gas.

2. Hundreds of thousands of jobs have been created in natural-gas related industries, both directly in the gas drilling activities, and indirectly in the industries supporting natural gas drilling like companies producing steel piping, drilling equipment, fracking sand, etc.

3. Cheap, abundant natural gas has sparked a manufacturing renaissance in energy-intensive industries like chemicals, fertilizers, and steel.

4. In the process of creating thousands of jobs and saving natural gas customers billions of dollars, the shale revolution has also significantly reduced carbon emissions as electricity producers have switched from dirty coal to clean, cheap natural gas.

Sure seems like a win, win, win situation  – an energy stimulus program that didn’t require any taxpayer support and wasn’t even part of any intentional energy policy from Washington. As Scott Grannis pointed out on his blog recently, “We have only just begun to see the impact of this incredible development on the U.S. economy’s ability to grow.”   The changing energy landscape will definitely continue to provide significant benefits to the U.S. economy for decades to come. Welcome to the Shale Revolution.

6 thoughts on “Energy milestone: For the first time ever, natural gas and coal had the same share of electricity generation in April

  1. A teachable moment for America
    Grandfather and his granddaughter setting on a bench together enjoying a Memorial day parade, the grandfather has one arm missing also pinned to his jacket is a silver star metal, on his head is a vfw hat. Both have American flags in there hand. Suddenly the granddaughter looks up at her grandfather with tears in her eyes and said. Grandpop you must have loved your family very much to have gone to war and losing your arm and all for their freedom and happyness. My parents are leaving my brothers and sisters and I with massive debt that we will have to pay for the rest of our lives. Don’t they love me like you loved them??????????????

  2. Government policy has played a part in this convergance because their policies have closed a lot of coal plants. Using natural gas is fine but if coal is cheaper in some areas, use the coal. No need to put all your eggs in one basket. Depending on the geographic area why not choose the most cost effective between coal, natural gas, nuclear, hydro or whatever?

  3. Yes indeed, “the shale revolution has also significantly reduced carbon emissions as electricity producers have switched from dirty coal to clean, cheap natural gas.” If only the author of this piece lived in the realm of facts rather than that of science fiction. A study recently done at Cornell shows that the net equivalent CO2 emissions from shale gas are already 1.2 times higher than those of coal when the methane that escapes into the air during the shale fracking process is added to the CO2 that is later emitted when the shale gas is burned as a fuel. According to the same study done at Cornell, this figure on net CO2 emissions for shale gas is expected to rise to up to 2 times that of coal by the end of this century as the number of fissures in the bedrock created by the fracking process increases exponentially over time. Not to worry though, Mr. Perry, another study recently published in Nature shows that the current net equivalent CO2 emissions of shale gas are only approximately equal to those of coal rather 1.2 times higher. But who’s counting? “Welcome to the Shale Revolution” of the illiterate & unthinking. Maggie Thatcher, Mr. Perry, called for a treaty on global climate change in the late 1980s & all continental European conservatives are now hard at work reducing CO2 emissions. What is it that makes the American rightwing so irremediably insensible? Is the water you are drinking?

  4. Plenty of early-warning signs on Fracking. Shale gas is selling well below the price of production. The wells seem to peeter out after a year or two (makes sense given the technology) unless, ‘restimulated’. Starting to look like a bubble, which will be brutal when it pops.

  5. @Mr. Provenzano:

    The Cornell study you refer to do was led by Robert Howarth, a biogeochemist who published his findings in the journal Climate Change. Another Cornell professor, Anthony Calthes, rebutted Howarth’s study in the same journal. Calthes of the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences pointed out numerous erroneous assumptions in the Howarth Study, and, that natural gas has a major advantage over coal in terms of green house gas emissions.

    http://www.recordonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20120119/NEWS90/120119705

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