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Natural Gas vs. Coal: A New Era of Electric Power Generation

In an attempt to comply with new strict air quality regulations, companies have cut back on their use of coal and have instead been using natural gas to generate electrical power in U.S. power plants. According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), from March 2011 to March 2012, power plants in the U.S. increased natural gas consumption by 40%.

With the many new regulations targeting air pollution and specific chemicals released into the air, coal is not the cheap alternative anymore. In fact, a natural gas plant can comply with the EPA’s proposed standards at a much lower cost than a coal plant. This is because in order for a coal-fired plant to comply with new regulations, they must install CCS technology, or carbon capture and storage technologies, which can cost up to twice as much as energy generated through natural gas. Clearly, natural gas is the cheaper, safer and more efficient way to generate electrical power.

Recently, Nationwide Boiler was involved in a coal-to-gas plant conversion at Duke University. We provided two rental boilers throughout the project to provide supplemental steam to the plant. Overall, the conversion of Duke’s steam plants has helped the University take a significant step towards its goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2024. To learn more about the project, click here to read our case study.

Source: Natural Gas & Coal Square Off, by Lindsay Morris. Power Engineering Magazine.

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