Natural gas stockpile levels rose again to a new record high last week, the government said Thursday.If human-caused ("anthropogenic") global warming turns out to be unimportant or a mistake or a hoax, the wind will be taken out of alternative-energy and nuclear-energy development. And of the two leading methods of generating electricity in the United States, natural gas produces far less pollution than coal:
The Energy Department's Energy Information Administration said in its weekly report that natural gas inventories held in underground storage in the lower 48 states grew by 2 billion cubic feet to about 3.84 trillion cubic feet for the week ended Nov. 27.
The average emissions rates in the United States from natural gas-fired generation are: 1135 lbs/MWh of carbon dioxide, 0.1 lbs/MWh of sulfur dioxide, and 1.7 lbs/MWh of nitrogen oxides. Compared to the average air emissions from coal-fired generation, natural gas produces half as much carbon dioxide, less than a third as much nitrogen oxides, and one percent as much sulfur oxides at the power plant.Recent estimates put U.S. reserves of natural gas at 2,000 trillion (!) cubic feet, roughly a 90-year supply at the current rate of U.S. consumption. Coal is the source for nearly twice as much power generation as second-place natural gas. Look for gas to rise in the coming years.
Chart from Department of Energy[Disclosure: 1-2% of my portfolio is invested in natural-gas companies and ETFs.]
[Update - 12/4/09: today's Washington Post has an article on U.S. natural gas reserves and technological advances in the extraction thereof. It appears that the "90-year supply" above was a bit understated: "The United States is sitting on over 100 years of gas supply at the current rates of consumption" said British Petroleum CEO Tony Hayward.]