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The greenhouse impact of unconventional gas for electricity generation

Abstract

New techniques to extract natural gas from unconventional resources have become economically competitive over the past several years, leading to a rapid and largely unanticipated expansion in natural gas production. The US Energy Information Administration projects that unconventional gas will supply nearly half of US gas production by 2035. In addition, by significantly expanding and diversifying the gas supply internationally, the exploitation of new unconventional gas resources has the potential to reshape energy policy at national and international levels-altering geopolitics and energy security, recasting the economics of energy technology investment decisions, and shifting trends in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In anticipation of this expansion, one of the perceived core advantages of unconventional gas-its relatively moderate GHG impact compared to coal-has recently come under scrutiny. In this paper, we compare the GHG footprints of conventional natural gas, unconventional natural gas (i.e. shale gas that has been produced using the process of hydraulic fracturing, or 'fracking'), and coal in a transparent and consistent way, focusing primarily on the electricity generation sector. We show that for electricity generation the GHG impacts of shale gas are 11% higher than those of conventional gas, and only 56% that of coal for standard assumptions.
Authors:
Hultman, Nathan; Ramig, Christopher; [1]  Rebois, Dylan; [2]  Scholten, Michael [3] 
  1. School of Public Policy, University of Maryland, 2101 Van Munching Hall, College Park, MD 20742 (United States)
  2. Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Maryland, 2181 Glenn L Martin Hall, Building 088, College Park, MD 20742 (United States)
  3. Joint Quantum Institute, University of Maryland, 2207 Computer and Space Sciences Building, College Park, MD 20742 (United States)
Publication Date:
Oct 15, 2011
Product Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Environmental Research Letters; Journal Volume: 6; Journal Issue: 4; Other Information: Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; 03 NATURAL GAS; AIR POLLUTION; AVAILABILITY; COAL; COMPARATIVE EVALUATIONS; ECONOMICS; ENERGY POLICY; GREENHOUSE GASES; HYDRAULIC FRACTURING; NATURAL GAS; POWER GENERATION; SHALE GAS; US ENERGY INFORMATION ADMINISTRATION
OSTI ID:
22064269
Country of Origin:
United Kingdom
Language:
English
Other Identifying Numbers:
Journal ID: ISSN 1748-9326; Other: PII: S1748-9326(11)96513-6; TRN: GB12I0739023581
Availability:
Available from http://dx.doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/6/4/044008
Submitting Site:
INIS
Size:
[9 page(s)]
Announcement Date:
Mar 09, 2013

Citation Formats

Hultman, Nathan, Ramig, Christopher, Rebois, Dylan, and Scholten, Michael. The greenhouse impact of unconventional gas for electricity generation. United Kingdom: N. p., 2011. Web. doi:10.1088/1748-9326/6/4/044008.
Hultman, Nathan, Ramig, Christopher, Rebois, Dylan, & Scholten, Michael. The greenhouse impact of unconventional gas for electricity generation. United Kingdom. doi:10.1088/1748-9326/6/4/044008.
Hultman, Nathan, Ramig, Christopher, Rebois, Dylan, and Scholten, Michael. 2011. "The greenhouse impact of unconventional gas for electricity generation." United Kingdom. doi:10.1088/1748-9326/6/4/044008. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/10.1088/1748-9326/6/4/044008.
@misc{etde_22064269,
title = {The greenhouse impact of unconventional gas for electricity generation}
author = {Hultman, Nathan, Ramig, Christopher, Rebois, Dylan, and Scholten, Michael}
abstractNote = {New techniques to extract natural gas from unconventional resources have become economically competitive over the past several years, leading to a rapid and largely unanticipated expansion in natural gas production. The US Energy Information Administration projects that unconventional gas will supply nearly half of US gas production by 2035. In addition, by significantly expanding and diversifying the gas supply internationally, the exploitation of new unconventional gas resources has the potential to reshape energy policy at national and international levels-altering geopolitics and energy security, recasting the economics of energy technology investment decisions, and shifting trends in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In anticipation of this expansion, one of the perceived core advantages of unconventional gas-its relatively moderate GHG impact compared to coal-has recently come under scrutiny. In this paper, we compare the GHG footprints of conventional natural gas, unconventional natural gas (i.e. shale gas that has been produced using the process of hydraulic fracturing, or 'fracking'), and coal in a transparent and consistent way, focusing primarily on the electricity generation sector. We show that for electricity generation the GHG impacts of shale gas are 11% higher than those of conventional gas, and only 56% that of coal for standard assumptions.}
doi = {10.1088/1748-9326/6/4/044008}
journal = {Environmental Research Letters}
issue = {4}
volume = {6}
journal type = {AC}
place = {United Kingdom}
year = {2011}
month = {Oct}
}