Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Replacing coal with natural gas would reduce global warming

Date:
July 16, 2012
Source:
American Geophysical Union
Summary:
A debate has raged in the past couple of years as to whether natural gas is better or worse overall than coal and oil from a global warming perspective. The back-and-forth findings have been due to the timelines taken into consideration, the details of natural gas extraction, and the electricity-generating efficiency of various fuels. A new analysis which focuses exclusively on potential warming and ignores secondary considerations, such as economic, political, or other environmental concerns, finds that natural gas is better for electricity generation than coal and oil under all realistic circumstances.

A debate has raged in the past couple of years as to whether natural gas is better or worse overall than coal and oil from a global warming perspective. The back-and-forth findings have been due to the timelines taken into consideration, the details of natural gas extraction, and the electricity-generating efficiency of various fuels. An analysis by Cathles, which focuses exclusively on potential warming and ignores secondary considerations, such as economic, political, or other environmental concerns, finds that natural gas is better for electricity generation than coal and oil under all realistic circumstances.

Related Articles


To come to this conclusion, the author considered three different future fuel consumption scenarios:

(1) a business-as-usual case, which sees energy generation capacity continue at its current pace with its current energy mix until the middle of the century, at which point the implementation of low-carbon energy sources dominates and fossil fuel-derived energy production declines;

(2) a gas substitution scenario, where natural gas replaces all coal power production and any new oil-powered facilities, with the same midcentury shift; and

(3) a low-carbon scenario, where all electricity generation is immediately and aggressively switched to non-fossil fuel sources such as solar, wind, and nuclear.

The author finds that the gas substitution scenario would realize 40 percent of the reduction in global warming that could be achieved with a full switch to low-carbon fuel sources. The benefit for mitigating warming revolves around the fact that to produce an equivalent amount of electricity burning natural gas would release less carbon dioxide than burning oil or coal. Though atmospheric methane traps more outgoing radiation than carbon dioxide does, at reasonable leakage rates its atmospheric concentration is much lower and what is released decomposes much more quickly. The author suggests that over timescales relevant to large-scale warming -- decades to centuries -- the effect of any methane released during natural gas extraction would be inconsequential.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Geophysical Union. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. L. M. Cathles. Assessing the greenhouse impact of natural gas. Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems, 2012; 13 DOI: 10.1029/2012GC004032

Cite This Page:

American Geophysical Union. "Replacing coal with natural gas would reduce global warming." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 July 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120716214334.htm>.
American Geophysical Union. (2012, July 16). Replacing coal with natural gas would reduce global warming. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120716214334.htm
American Geophysical Union. "Replacing coal with natural gas would reduce global warming." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120716214334.htm (accessed April 18, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Planet Defence Conference Tackles Asteroid Threat

Planet Defence Conference Tackles Asteroid Threat

AFP (Apr. 17, 2015) Scientists gathered at a European Space Agency (ESA) facility outside Rome this week for the Planetary Defence Conference 2015 to discuss how to tackle the potential threat from asteroids hitting Earth. Duration: 00:54 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Gulf Scarred, Resilient 5 Years After BP Spill

Gulf Scarred, Resilient 5 Years After BP Spill

AP (Apr. 17, 2015) Five years after the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico, splotches of oil still dot the seafloor and wads of tarry petroleum-smelling material hide in pockets in the marshes of Barataria Bay. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Boeing's Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUV) Echo Ranger

Boeing's Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUV) Echo Ranger

Scuba Diving (Apr. 16, 2015) Seventy years after its service in World War II, NOAA, working with private industry partners, has confirmed the location and condition of the USS Independence. Resting upright in 2,600 feet of water off California’s Farallon Islands, the aircraft carrier’s hull and flight deck are clearly visible in sonar images, with what appears to be a plane in the carrier’s hangar bay. Video provided by Scuba Diving
Powered by NewsLook.com
California Drought Renews Thirst for Desalination Plants

California Drought Renews Thirst for Desalination Plants

Reuters - US Online Video (Apr. 16, 2015) As California&apos;s water crisis deepens, a one billion dollar desalination plant is set to go on-line near San Diego. Nathan Frandino reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins