Monday, June 28, 2010

For DOD Energy Planners: MIT Scopes out a Newly Gas Abundant World

We've talked several times (see here and here) about the newly realized abundance of natural gas in the US and all over the world. Now, as it has done in the past with coal and oil, MIT has marshaled its enormous expertise on energy matters (with input from other industry and government experts) into a new report that includes predictions for the future of the natural gas industry, forecasts of its potential economic ramifications, and some clear guidance on how to make the most of this mainly good news story from an energy security point of view.

Among the findings and forecasts are: that natural gas will likely become the fuel of choice for peak power generation and overtake coal as our largest source of electricity in general. Acknowledging that economical grid-scale energy storage is still a ways off, it says that natural gas plants should be used to to fill in for intermittent renewable power sources like solar and wind.

The authors tend to focus on carbon and climate change policy as big drivers. The DOD Energy Blog acknowledges these factors but gives much more weighting to reliable access to energy sources for the country and for DOD. But from an supply security point of view, this comment from the press release highlights what's probably the most important recommendation:
Illustrating the role of natural gas as a bridge to a low carbon future, the study’s authors stressed that it would be a mistake to let natural gas crowd out research on other low- or no-carbon energy sources, but it would also be a mistake to let investments in such alternatives crowd out the expansion of natural gas resources in the near term ....
Here's the press release. The 104-page interim report is free and can be viewed in full here.

Photo credit: Patrick Denker on

No comments: