Washington, D.C.-Over its full cycle of production, distribution, and use, natural gas emits just over half as many greenhouse gas emissions as coal does for equivalent energy output, according to a new study from the Worldwatch Institute and the Deutsche Bank Climate Change Advisors. The analysis clarifies the role of methane releases in the calculation of comparative emissions between the two fossil fuels and explores how the growing share of natural gas production from shale formations could change that fuel's footprint.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) updated its methodology for estimating methane emissions from natural gas systems, generating concern that the new, higher methane figures could minimize the greenhouse gas advantage that natural gas is seen widely to have over coal.
Applying the EPA's new estimates, the life-cycle greenhouse gas footprint of natural gas-fired electricity increased roughly 11 percent, according to the study. "Despite a substantial increase in the methane assumed to be emitted during natural gas production, we found that U.S. natural gas-fired electricity generation still released 47 percent fewer greenhouse gases than coal from source to use," said Saya Kitasei, a Worldwatch Institute Sustainable Energy Fellow and one of the contributing writers.Read more about this study here.
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