Emissions From Natural Gas Projected to Surpass Coal

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By Ari Natter

Aug. 17 — Natural gas has reached another milestone after surpassing coal as the country's main source of electricity generation: It's now the power sector's No. 1 source of carbon dioxide emissions, according to the Energy Department.

Energy-associated carbon dioxide emissions from natural gas are expected this year to surpass those from coal for the first time since 1972, the Energy Information Administration said in a blog post Aug. 17.

Though natural gas is less carbon-intensive than coal, increases in natural gas consumption and decreases in coal consumption have resulted in the emissions change, according to the agency, which projects carbon emissions from natural gas will be 10 percent greater than those from coal in 2016.

The consumption of natural gas results in about 52 million metric tons of carbon dioxide for every quadrillion British thermal units (MMmtCO2/quad Btu), while coal's carbon intensity is about 95 MMmtCO2/quad Btu, or about 82% higher than natural gas's carbon intensity, the EIA said.

According to the agency, in 2016, natural gas is expected to fuel 34 percent of electricity generation, compared to 30 percent for coal.

Carbon dioxide emissions from energy production are still expected this year to decline to their lowest level since 1992 because of the switch from natural gas to coal, the agency said earlier this month.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ari Natter in Washington at anatter@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at lpearl@bna.com

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