The Role of Natural Gas in Electric Power Generation in the Twenty-First Century
Industrial society is energy, capital and information intensive. As a nation makes the transition to an industrial society, the degree of electrification in terms of the electricity share of point-of-use energy consumption increases as does the electric intensity of GDP and the electricity consumption per capita. A substantial number of lesser developed nations are rapidly expanding their economies and consequently their power generation capacities. As these developing economies expand, the environmental consequences of their primary energy choice will have profound effects due to the implicit long term commitment to specific technologies. In the industrialized world we are realizing the extent to which technology choices have extremely large inertia’s. Historically, coal was the low cost energy resource because of the ease of discovery, simplicity of mining and the availability of low cost labor in societies undergoing industrialization. While coal is less expensive than natural gas on an energy basis, the recent emergence of low cost high efficiency gas turbine combined cycle equipment, combined with increased discoveries of modest cost gas worldwide, results in natural gas combined cycle produced electricity being the lowest cost power in many locales, besides being by far the cleanest of the fuel fired alternatives.
KeywordsCoal Gasification Combine Cycle Modular Generation Combine Cycle Power Plant Combine Cycle Plant
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