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    MORE NATURAL GAS PLANTS


    November 30, 2022 - Timothy Lukac

     

      Natural gas in combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) plants is gaining traction, according to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA). Spikes in new LNG construction for the US have been on a steady rise since 2020, both in use and value. According to a market report, gas futures rose above the $7 per Million British Thermal Units (MMBtu) level for a moment and have been hovering just below that for the last 6 months. The excitement is driving the power generation industry to promote its use in gas turbines, with a recent report by the EIA featuring an increase. The report shows a forecast of more combined cycle plants coming online through to 2027 than in recent years, impressing a renewed interest in its utilization as a prime mover for combined cycle natural gas turbine facilities.

      The spike from 2003-2004 is from a Bush-era initiative greatly promoting the use of cleaner natural gas and coal. The Department of Interior at the time was very interested in increasing its use and providing better energy security to the United States. Recently, we have seen a bigger push from the other direction, with renewables taking center stage, and traditional fossil-fuel burning enterprises taking a hit. There's a resurgence in new construction in correspondence with demand, suggesting greener technologies cannot stand on their own.

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      One of the biggest takeaways is that the current administration is taking its goals of energy independence seriously. Nations have picked up on the need for a balanced energy mix and are reacting accordingly. The EIA reports that natural gas currently stands as the most significant chunk of the US generation mix, with over 38%. Coal follows at 22%, Renewables at 20% and Nuclear at 19%. The top two producers for renewables are wind and hydro.

      Geography helps to answer the why and where. Seven out of eight CCGT plants being built are in the Upper Midwest or Florida, with five being in the Rust Belt. New machinery is required to replacing aging and obsolete coal-burning facilities. These power-hungry regions are looking to placate increasing electricity requirements, and gas-fueled turbine plants serve as the optimal choice for alleviating the ailments of an overburdened grid pushed to capacity.

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