The methane key to meeting climate goals

By Eric Larson & Richard Wiles

Notably, under this scenario, by 2060 half the coal power in the country would have to be replaced with natural gas to achieve a mere 10 per cent reduction in emissions. – Even if we assume there are no leaks anywhere in the entire natural gas system, it would take 30 years, until 2045, to achieve a 30 per cent reduction in electricity sector greenhouse gas emissions.

Our analysis looked at various leak rate scenarios, but each one assumed a conversion rate of about 1. 8 per cent of all coal-fired generation to natural gas per year, the rate needed to achieve a 25 per cent reduction in coal use by 2030.

Three factors drive any assessment of the impacts of leaks in the natural gas system, and by extension, our ability to achieve the goals set out in the proposed EPA rule: the estimated methane leak rate from drilling through end use; methane’s initial potent warming potential that then decreases over time; and the rate at which we switch from coal to gas.

That rate is equivalent to reducing coal electricity for 15 years at about half the annual rate of the 2008 to 2013 period, one of the fastest conversion periods ever. – With a 2 per cent leak rate, which is roughly the EPA’s current estimate, by 2030 greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity sector would be about 10 per cent lower than today.

By 2060, we would reach a 24 per cent reduction, still well short of the 30 per cent target. – With a 4 per cent leak rate, by 2030 greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation would be just 2 per cent lower than today.

Read more here: Business Spectator


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