New studies reinforce importance of natural gas for clean energy future

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New studies reinforce importance of natural gas for clean energy future

July 14, 2017

The advent of more efficient and affordable clean energy in recent years has left natural gas with an unwarranted bad reputation. However, a series of new studies, led by groundbreaking research at the University of Texas, Austin, could help create greater public awareness around the surprising truth of this energy source: gas-fired energy is one of the most realistic hopes for a successful Clean Energy Plan moving forward.

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Because of these studies, many energy industry insiders are expecting a surge in gas-fired power generation and the creation of new technologies to support that growth. Among the exciting developments already moving forward are gas-powered micro-grids, a simple idea with the potential to completely revolutionize electric power infrastructure in America.

Poised for large-scale adoption

With businesses increasingly reliant on digital databases, even brief power outages can have widespread repercussions. This positions the gas-fired micro-grid approach as an ideal solution for large-scale adoption. Far from the violent natural disasters you might be imagining, events as common as mild rain, a wind storm or a simple, unexpected technical failure can account for blackouts capable of massive data loss.

The micro-grid system can provide emergency power to areas on the scale of a business compound or a city block, acting almost like a massive back-up generator, making it extremely attractive to businesses whose continued success can depend on avoiding seconds of power disruption. In addition, the micro-grid system is able to supplement an area’s daily energy needs. Considering increasing needs for data back-up across all business sectors, and the growing efficiency of gas-fired electricity production, it makes sense that energy analysts are excited about the potential for this new energy infrastructure.

The Study at ut Austin

Attempting to determine the most optimal U.S. energy sources, based on cost, environmental impact and public health, researchers at the University of Texas, Austin, performed a large-scale study and released their findings in a series of white papers in late 2016. The study included solar, wind, coal, nuclear and natural gas. The results favored wind and natural gas energy production over all others.

What Makes this Study So Impactful?

Knowing that any fossil fuel study performed at a Texas university was bound to attract serious scrutiny, UT Austin’s Energy Institute put an emphasis on transparency, designing their collection and analysis methodologies in great detail to ensure fair and balanced data collection that would hopefully avoid general skepticism.

Part of their innovative strategy was a holistic research approach, looking to the fields of law, engineering, economics and public policy for literature and opinions to inform their work. In an interview with the UT News, Energy Institute Director Dr. Tom Edgar said, “These are complex, interrelated issues that cannot be adequately addressed from one perspective. We assembled a cross-disciplinary team to provide a fuller understanding of these costs and their policy implications.”

Using estimates from the data they collected, the team at UT Austin developed a set of online calculators to provide policymakers and other stakeholders with a representation of the financial implications involved with electricity production. The researchers hoped that giving stakeholders clear and consistent information would promote an open and productive conversation.

SOURCE:  Penn Energy

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