The shale gas boom has transformed the U.S. power sector, providing an abundance of low-cost natural gas that has enabled many electric utilities to switch from coal to gas. It has upended U.S. coal markets, and reduced air pollution and carbon dioxide emissions.

U.S. experience has heightened interest in using natural gas as a “bridge” to a low-carbon energy future. Many argue that renewable energy and other non-carbon energy sources simply cannot ramp up fast enough to stem the continuing rise in global coal use, particularly for power generation.

Absent new policies and actions, the International Energy Agency expects more than 1,000 GW of new coal power capacity in the next two decades. Once built, these plants could “lock-in” hundreds of billions of tonnes of CO2 emissions over their operating lifetimes, a significant fraction of the remaining global carbon budget for remaining within a 2°C warming path. Cleaner and efficient natural gas plants can produce electricity with half the carbon and far less local pollution than coal. What then, if, globally, natural gas production and trade were scaled up? Would it put us on a path to a low-carbon future?

Source: RTCC, UK