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Role of natural gas in meeting an electric sector emissions reduction strategy and effects on greenhouse gas emissions

Carol Lenox and P. Ozge Kaplan

Energy Economics, 2016, vol. 60, issue C, 460-468

Abstract: With advances in natural gas extraction technologies, there is an increase in the availability of domestic natural gas, and natural gas is gaining a larger share of use as a fuel in electricity production. At the power plant, natural gas is a cleaner burning fuel than coal, but uncertainties exist in the amount of methane leakage occurring upstream in the extraction and production of natural gas. At higher leakage levels, the additional methane emissions could offset the carbon dioxide emissions reduction benefit of switching from coal to natural gas. This analysis uses the MARKAL linear optimization model to compare the carbon emissions profiles and system-wide global warming potential of the U.S. energy system over a series of model runs in which the power sector is required to meet a specific carbon dioxide reduction target across a number of scenarios in which the availability of natural gas changes. Scenarios are run with carbon dioxide emissions and a range of upstream methane emission leakage rates from natural gas production along with upstream methane and carbon dioxide emissions associated with production of coal and oil. While the system carbon dioxide emissions are reduced in most scenarios, total carbon dioxide equivalent emissions show an increase in scenarios in which natural gas prices remain low and, simultaneously, methane emissions from natural gas production are higher.

Keywords: Energy system; Scenario analysis; Carbon emissions reductions; Methane; Natural gas (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: Q40 Q54 Q48 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2016
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