Natgas is top reason for drop in US CO2 – GE executive

07 March 2013 23:38  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--Natural gas is the top reason why the US has cut its carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to levels below those seen in 1990, an executive at GE said on Thursday.

"Since 2005, the one country that has reduced its CO2 emissions more than any other is the US," said Paul Browning, CEO of thermal products, GE Power & Water.

Browning made his comments during IHS CERAWeek.

"It is not because of government policy," he said. "Instead it is because of unconventional gas."

The advent of shale gas has lowered prices for natural gas, making it cost competitive against coal for power plants.

At the same time, the US had too much natural-gas powered capacity, Browning said. As a result, as gas prices began falling, power companies could easily switch from coal to natural gas.

Wind power is the second main reason why the US has lowered its CO2 emissions, Browning said.

While the previous decade's economic downturn also lowered emissions, its effect still trailed that of shale gas and wind power, Browning said.

Looking ahead, new power plants should become more efficient, which should also help control CO2 emissions, he said.

Browning cited his company's FlexEfficiency* 50 combined cycle power plant as an example. It can achieve efficiency rates of 60%.

"This is the fastest selling new project in the history of my business," he said. "And we expect to do very well with this."

By: Al Greenwood
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