Natural Gas and Reliability
A reliable fuel is an abundant fuel and there is little doubt that America has the natural it needs for generations to come. The Energy Information Administration (EIA), independent geologists that make up the Potential Gas Committee, and academic institutions like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) each project ample long-term domestic supplies of natural gas.
To put these findings in context, the total volume of natural gas consumed in 2015 in the United States was 27.5 trillion cubic feet. The most recent projections show a range of technically recoverable gas using today’s technology from 2,203 to 3,545 trillion cubic feet. That’s decades of natural gas available right now. And as technology improves those numbers will go up.
Since the beginning of 2005, dry natural gas production in the United States has increased 50 percent. The Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) most recent projections, the 2016 Annual Energy Outlook, project a 55 percent increase in total natural gas production from 2015 to 2040. The U.S has enough natural gas to sustain substantial increases in domestic consumption and to support exports.
The electric utility industry, regulators and policymakers know that we need clean, efficient and affordable electricity to reduce emissions and strengthen our economy. Clean, abundant and affordable natural gas is ready to play an even greater role in the diverse mix of energy sources that will power America’s future. As we contemplate our energy choices, it’s worth considering a number of facts:
Multiple infrastructure projects designed to meet growing market demand in the Northeast are underway. Regional leaders and stakeholders are focused on expanding infrastructure to ease bottlenecks particularly in New England. In 2013, 2014 and 2015—fully 57 percent of total United States investment in new pipeline infrastructure targeted the Northeast. Multiple projects all center on bringing Marcellus Shale gas supplies to markets in New York, New England and the Southeast. These projects will increase natural gas capacity, deliverability, flexibility and reliability, and will result in economic and environmental benefits to these regions.
Source: Bentek – Illustrates pipeline expansion in the northeast in the next three years.
As a result, during last winter’s record cold, adequate gas supply was available, despite some correctable infrastructure issues that arose. This winter, growing infrastructure, more production and record storage fill rates create more favorable conditions.
The shale gas revolution has made natural gas an abundant, low-cost fuel that can provide reliable base-load, intermediate and peaking power. As the make-up of our power generating fleet evolves, natural gas-fired power plants will play a critical role in maintaining electric system reliability, creating fuel diversity and reducing air emissions.