Natural Gas ‘Bridge’ Gets ‘Shorter and Narrower’ as Corona Drives Down Demand
Natural gas is quickly declining as a supposed “bridge” between coal-fired electricity and renewable energy, without even factoring in the climate-busting methane emissions that come along with natural gas produced by hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.
With the COVID-19 pandemic driving down demand, and renewable energy sources increasingly undercutting gas based on price, sheer economics may be bringing the natural gas “revolution” to an end, S&P Global Market Intelligence reports, in a post republished by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA).
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“Gas was viewed as a bridge fuel between coal and renewables, and that bridge just got shorter and narrower,” Dan Klein, head of scenario planning at S&P Global Platts, told a webinar last week. “[We] still expect gas to grow strongly over the long term,” but “COVID took a good chunk out of that growth.”
A separate study by IEEFA and the Applied Economics Clinic identifies a dozen combined cycle gas plant projects across the PJM Interconnection, a large grid territory covering the northeastern and some of the midwestern United States, due to “a growing list of headwinds,” Utility Dive reports. “The study points to a large oversupply in the capacity market, ‘uncertainty’ over fuel prices, clean energy requirements passed by several states, and other factors that will impact the future of delayed plants as well as new proposals.”
The message for anyone thinking about buying or financing a gas plant in PJM territory is “buyer beware”, AEC researcher and report co-author Bryndis Woods said in a statement.
“Individually, each of these risks could perhaps be factored into a project’s financing,” agreed co-author and IEEFA analyst Dennis Wamsted. “Taken together, they pose virtually insurmountable hurdles for new gas-fired projects in the region.”
The summary of the S&P webinar points to significant growth in wind and solar markets this year, as corporate America pushes for zero emissions and European fossils direct a bit more of their investment (though not nearly enough, and not yet the majority of it) toward renewables.