Jane Van Ryan
Posted July 7, 2010
A new, comprehensive MIT study has people talking about the role of natural gas in the nation's energy future.
The study found natural gas will play a leading role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) over the next several decades, primarily as a fuel to produce electricity.
The two-year study from the MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI), examined the scale of U.S. natural gas reserves and the fuel's potential to reduce GHGs from the perspectives of technology, economics, politics, national security and the environment.
Some key findings from the report:
- The United States has a significant natural gas resource base, enough to equal about 92 years' worth at present domestic consumption rates.
- Unconventional U.S. gas resources, including shale gas, are rapidly overtaking conventional resources as the primary source of gas production. The United States consumes around 22 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) per year and has a natural gas resource base now thought to exceed 2,000 Tcf.
"The analysis in this study provides the confirmation--natural gas truly is a bridge to a low-carbon future," said MITEI director and former under secretary of energy Ernest J. Moniz.
But while significant global natural gas supplies exist, how much is produced and used depends on key political and regulatory decisions. The report says:
"...it is important as a matter of national policy not to favor any one fuel or energy sources in a way that puts others at a disadvantage. The most useful policies, the authors suggested, are ones that produce a truly 'level playing field' for all forms of energy supply and for demand reductions, and thus let the marketplace, and the ingenuity of the nation's researchers, determine the best options."
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