The installed capacity of gas-fired power plants will climb in the next 20 years because the structure of the facility industry continues to shift from one based totally on central generation resources to a hybrid system comprising each centralized and distributed resources, through a new analysis by GE Power.

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The company published the report — which includes the latest New Policies Scenario from the International Energy Agency’s recent World Energy Outlook — at Power-Gen International, an annual summit of energy-industry professionals held this week in Orlando, Florida.

That shift to a hybrid system, together with digital innovations and also the have to be compelled to address climate change, suggests that electrical grids can become more efficient and cleaner by 2040, relying increasingly on natural gas. This energy transition will need power infrastructure and markets to be additional versatile to handle variations in the demand and supply of energy, a role natural gas power plants are increasingly able to handle.

Gas-fired power plants are the sole fuel technology set to grow in most regions, because of the low up-front investment value for brand new plants, the increasing availability of gas and the role of gas in [power] system flexibility,” said the International Energy Agency in GE’s analysis, “Gas-Fired Generation in a transformed Energy Landscape.”

Along with solar and wind, natural gas will provide the majority of new global sources in the coming years. Over 1,500 gigawatts of recent gas-fired generation capability is predicted to be added to international power networks by 2040. New gas demand is going to be driven by China, which can see its gas demand quadruple by 2040 below the IEA’s New Policies state of affairs projection, which relies on the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

China will combine with India and Southeast Asia to supply 60 percent of future energy investment. All told, IEA expects the world’s put in electrical capability to reach 12,480 GW by 2040, of which gas can provide 22 percent, the most of any single fuel supply. Renewables and nuclear energy will provide 59 percent, with coal and oil meeting the remainder of global needs.

“Somedays I feel like this myself. Not enough hands to hold everything up”
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Among the reasons for the acceleration in gas plant construction is the ability of these plants to adjust quickly to accommodate both fluctuations in demand and variable renewable energy sources. For example, a 570-megawatt 7HA.02 GE combined-cycle power plant powering 500,000 U.S. households will begin in less than 30 minutes, ramp up or down at 60 MW per minute and turn down to less than 200 MW while maintaining emissions limits. Such agility is important to balance out variable wind and solar supply levels. The fact that gas is that the most clean-burning fuel — it releases about 50 percent less carbon dioxide than coal and far fewer other pollutants — means it’s additionally desirable for meeting environmental objectives.

Another factor driving the demand for new gas plants is the fact that the up-front capital investment required for a gas plant is less than other choices per kilowatt of installed capacity.

In the U.S., on average, a simple-cycle natural gas plant prices roughly $825/kW, compared to $1,100/kW for utility-scale star, onshore-wind prices of $1,350/kW and $3,025/kW for offshore wind, through Lazard’s Levelized Cost of Energy Analysis. Installing gas is additionally a comparatively quick process compared to other generation sources — technicians can have a 30-MW simple-cycle plant shipped to distant space and generating power within weeks.

It is clear that because the world navigates the energy transition, faces the pressing ought to tackle climate change and addresses the need to transfer electricity to almost 1 billion people without it today, natural gas can still be a vital part of the global energy portfolio.