So, what does natural gas have to do with electricity?
Well, as natural gas prices have fallen over the last few years, electricity generators have been in a ‘fuel switching’ trend. That is, more and more of these electricity generators have been using natural gas to create steam to turn their electricity generating turbines, instead of coal.
Still, in Texas, and indeed the United States, most of the electricity generated by utility power plants is generated by the burning of coal.
The image here indicates that 45% of the electricity generated is by the use of coal. But, what you also should notice is the increasing percentage of natural gas used for electricity generation, at 24% in 2010. Further, the projections indicate a continued increase in the use of natural gas for electricity production.
Why Natural Gas?
Simply put, here are the reasons we see the fuel switching trend:
- Because we have so much of it!
- It burns cleaner than coal.
- The price is right.
Add those 3 items up and you have a great case for burning more natural gas for electricity generation.
Where is the gas coming from?
I am sure you have seen a TV commercial or two promoting an expansion of the use of natural gas in America. These commercials tout the same 3 reasons listed above (for electricity generation). But, where is this gas coming from? Why the big push for gas?
Well, take a look at this picture and you’ll quickly see why this trend is in full swing.
The production of natural gas has skyrocketed since 2009, because so much of it has been ‘discovered’ right here in the United States, and much of it in Texas. The gas ‘found’ is in the shale formations. They always knew the gas was there, but in the past, they were unable to extract it. With recent innovations in drilling techniques, they are now able to get this gaseous gold out of the ground.
For more information on this and other energy subjects, visit the Energy Information Administration website.
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