“natural Gas Vs. Renewable Energy: A Look At Environmental Impact” – To expand the use of renewable electricity sources, we need new storage and transmission strategies, more efficient generation and prices that cover the hidden costs of electricity.

Electricity generated by renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, and hydropower. In 2018, the US got about 17% of its electricity from renewable energy. In contrast, the country got about 35% of its electricity from natural gas, as it is the most expensive energy source in many areas.

“natural Gas Vs. Renewable Energy: A Look At Environmental Impact”

) than burning other fossil fuels such as coal. But natural gas produces significantly more pollution than renewables. Although the oil and natural gas industry tries to prevent it, some natural gas leaks into the atmosphere from wells, storage facilities, pipelines and processing plants. In 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimated that such leaks account for about a third of the U.S.’s methane — a potent greenhouse gas. About 4% of US greenhouse gas emissions come from these emissions. This makes natural gas a major contributor to climate change.

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Sources of electricity generation in the United States in 2018. (The sum of the interest does not equal 100% due to the free circulation.) Credit

Renewable electricity has increased significantly. For example, the amount of energy generated by solar technology increased by more than 100% from 2014 to 2018, although it is still a small piece of the electricity production pie. At the same time, wind energy increased by 46%.

One factor is cost. Some types of renewable energy, such as wind power and utility solar, are cheaper than natural gas in some areas. But cost comparisons vary across countries. Technological advances can help reduce the cost of renewables by helping to make electricity more efficient. For example, one federal research project is working to combine two different solar technologies into a single technology that could deliver not only the technology, but also affordable energy.

Adjust energy prices to more accurately reflect their costs. Currently, the prices that utilities and consumers pay for energy do not reflect the costs of energy sources to human health and the environment. For example, they do not cover respiratory diseases caused by air pollution, or the contribution of energy sources to climate change.

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Because these “hidden” costs are not reflected in energy prices, the full impact of business and consumer choices may not be realized. If market prices were adjusted to reflect these hidden costs—for example, if politicians taxed pollution or issued pollution permits that power plants could buy—the price of natural gas and coal would rise. The cost of renewables like biomass and geothermal would also rise, but by much less. Overall, the price differential would spread, reducing the incentive to choose fossil fuels.

It is difficult, but possible. For example, a 2010 National Research Council report looked at a sample of 498 natural gas-fired power plants that accounted for 71% of US gas-fired electricity. The report’s committee estimated that these factories caused $740 million in damage to human health and the environment in 2005.

This estimate does not include the damage from climate change – the economic costs from changing temperatures and rising seas. It is more difficult to attach an exact dollar figure to these hidden costs because they will be revealed over a long period of time and their amount is still uncertain.

Hidden costs reflect a failure in the energy market. When market failures occur, it may be the case that government intervention in the form of regulation, taxation, or trade permits is needed to expose hidden costs. That way, businesses and consumers can take them into account when making choices.

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Yes, tax policies and regulations affect renewable energy, especially wind and solar. The federal government currently provides tax credits for investment in and production of renewable electricity sources. Some states mandate the use of renewables. For example, 29 states have adopted standards requiring a certain amount of electricity used within the state to come from renewable or zero-carbon sources.

Improved accessibility. While natural gas can generate electricity on demand, electricity generation from wind and solar varies with the weather and time of day. This is a challenge because people need electricity on calm or cloudy days and at night. Electricity storage that can store wind or solar energy for later use is needed. Some storage technologies are now available, such as pumped storage, which uses energy to pump water into a hydroelectric reservoir, which then sends electricity through a turbine when needed. New battery technologies are also being used. Converting excess electricity from renewable energy to another fuel, such as hydrogen, is another option for conservation.

Yes. In the United States, places with a lot of sun and wind are far from large cities that need electricity. Transporting renewable energy from places of production to places where it is used poses significant challenges.

Delivering more electricity and doing it efficiently will be key to overcoming this barrier and supporting the widespread use of renewables. New technologies such as high-voltage direct current and the use of conductive materials are improving transmission efficiency. However, policy and siting issues for new transmission lines remain obstacles for many new transmission projects.

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Yes, introducing “smart grid” technologies into the power grid will make its overall operation more flexible and efficient. This will allow more renewables to be used. For example, smart meters can introduce prices that change based on electricity demand, allowing utilities to better estimate electricity demand and production. Smart grid technologies include monitors and controls that can better manage power sources and storage technologies. America’s coal-fired power plants are closing at a rapid pace, forcing the electric utility to confront its next big climate question: Embrace natural gas, or aggressively transition to renewable energy?

Some major utilities, including Xcel Energy in the Upper Midwest, are now planning to drastically reduce their use of coal and natural gas in favor of clean and abundant wind and solar energy, which are now cheaper. But in the Southeast and other regions, natural gas dominates because of its reliability and low cost. Energy companies across the country plan to add at least 150 new gas plants and thousands of miles of pipelines in the coming years.

The rush to build gas-fired plants, which emit only half as much carbon pollution as coal, could block the use of new fossil fuels for decades, with emissions expected to fall sharply by the middle ages, scientists say. effects of global warming.

“The gas infrastructure we build today will be with us for 30 years,” said Daniel Cohan, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Rice University.

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“But if you look at scenarios that are serious about climate change, you need to achieve net emissions by 2050,” he said, “and that’s not going to be consistent with gas plants that don’t capture their carbon.”

In some states, policy decisions are encouraging them to leave the gas to meet ambitious climate goals. Last week, New York lawmakers passed a sweeping energy bill calling for the state to transition entirely to carbon-free electricity sources by 2040, following states like California and New Mexico that have passed similar laws.

Since 2005, most power companies have significantly reduced their carbon emissions, largely by switching from coal to gas. Despite the Trump administration’s efforts to roll back federal pollution regulations and keep them in place, coal plants have become competitive with other forms of energy production in other parts of the country.

But in a recent analysis, David Pomeranth, executive director of the Renewable Energy and Policy Institute, looked at the long-term plans of the 22 largest utility investors. Some in the Midwest plan to accelerate the pace of emissions reductions between now and 2030. But other major utilities, such as Duke Energy and American Electric Power, plan to reduce carbon emissions at a slower pace over the next decade. over the next ten years.

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“I think gas is at the core,” Mr. Pomerant said. “You have some utilities that look at gas and say, ‘No thanks, we think there’s a cleaner and cheaper way.’ “But then you gas others.”

Last fall, in North and South Carolina, Duke Energy, a pair of utilities, told state regulators to continue retiring coal plants and replacing them with more than 9,500 megawatts of new natural gas capacity by 2033. Utilities also plan. adding a smaller amount of solar capacity, about 3,600 megawatts, over the same period.

“Gas is the most cost-effective option for us right now,” said Kenneth Jennings, Duke’s director of renewable strategy and policy.

How does your state generate electricity? The past two decades have seen significant changes in American electricity generation. Each state has its own history.

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