New Study Casts Doubt On Climate Benefits Of Natural Gas Power Plants

"The emissions and methane leaks from new gas plants zero out the CO2 cuts achieved from closing coal plants, a peer-reviewed analysis found."

"Burning natural gas produces roughly half the carbon dioxide of coal, which is why policymakers across the political spectrum have long billed it as a “bridge fuel” to a safer climate.

But new research suggests the emissions benefits of gas-fired power plants are not what they seem.

U.S. output of carbon dioxide, the primary gas causing climate change, fell 23% between 2000 to 2018 as the electricity sector’s emissions dropped 34%, largely thanks to coal plants retiring.

But if the new fleet of gas plants built over the past decade last as long and are used as often as the coal units they replaced, the projected emissions for the U.S. power sector for the lifespan of the stations will decrease by just 12%, a study published last month in the peer-reviewed journal AGU Advances found. And when the higher-end estimates of how much methane, a potent heat-trapping gas and the main ingredient in natural gas, leaks during the production and burning cycle every year, even those reductions are effectively eliminated."

Alexander C. Kaufman reports for HuffPost October 9, 2020.

Source: HuffPost, 10/12/2020