How Long Will New Energy Need NatGas?
Clean energy is catching up to natural gas; The natural gas “bridge” to sustainability may be shorter than expected.
David Roberts, July 13, 2018 (VOX)
…[Conventional wisdom in the energy sector for a decade has been that natural gas is the necessary bridge] from the fossil fuel present to the renewable future…Around 2015, though, just five years into gas’s rise to power, complications for this narrative began to appear. First, wind and solar costs fell so far, so fast that they are now undercutting the cost of new gas in a growing number of regions. And then batteries — which can “firm up” variable renewables, diminishing the need for natural gas’s flexibility — also started getting cheap faster than anyone expected. It happened so fast that, in certain limited circumstances, solar+storage or wind+storage is already cheaper than new natural gas plants and able to play all the same roles (and more)…
The cost of natural gas power is tethered to the commodity price of natural gas, which is inherently volatile. The price of controllable, storable renewable energy is tethered only to technology costs, which are going down, down, down. Recent forecasts suggest that it may be cheaper to build new renewables+storage than to continue operating existing natural gas plants by 2035…That means natural gas plants built today could be rendered uncompetitive well before their rated lifespan. They could become ‘stranded assets,’ saddling utility ratepayers and investors with the costs of premature decommissioning...Meanwhile, gas’s environmental reputation has suffered from a series of reports…showing that gas’s lifecycle methane emissions are much higher than previously estimated and could virtually erase any climate advantage gas has over coal, rendering it a bridge to nowhere…” click here for more