Gas Could Ease Electric's Growing Pains, INGAA Study Says
The need for new natural gas-fired generating capacity over the
next decade could be as much or more than double what some industry
experts have forecasted, according to a new study commissioned by
the INGAA Foundation.
The study found that the potential for gas-fired generating
additions by 2007 ranged from about 97,000 MW to 143,000 MW. This
was substantially greater than the North American Electricity
Reliability Council's (NERC) projection that gas will fuel 62,900
MW, or 66% of the net generation additions that are expected by
NERC forecasts that gas use in power generation will grow at 3%
a year - from 3.3 Tcf/year in 1998 to 4.4 Tcf/year in 2007 - while
the Energy Information Administration sees demand rising to 5.7 Tcf
Gas-fired generation is "uniquely suited" to meet the growing
electricity market, according to the study, "Reducing Electric
Transmission Constraints with Gas-Fired Power Generation." In fact,
it said gas-fired power plants - which can be built quickly near
high-demand areas - could help relieve electricity transmission
constraints and capacity shortages that are expected to only worsen
in the years ahead.
"New gas-fired combined cycle units can be built in or near
[electric] load centers experiencing capacity problems. Their
compact size, environmental benefits and quick construction times
make gas the ideal fuel to meet growing consumer demand for
electricity. And gas pipelines, which are integrated and can
provide transportation service to a range of gas markets, already
serve those areas," the study noted.
Because gas-fired plants can be built near urban load centers,
the need to transmit power between regions would be minimized and,
therefore, congestion would be eased on the system, the study
contends. "Congestion and bottlenecks...often occur as a result of
the need to transmit electricity from distant generating units to
urban load centers."
The role of gas-fired plants will be critical given that only
6,600 miles of new power transmission above 230 kV are planned over
the next decade, representing a 4% increase, and generation
reserve margins in many of NERC's 10 reliability regions are
expected to fall below historical levels by 2007, the INGAA
Foundation study said.
In spite of the "significant" generating capacity additions that
are planned, NERC believes significant shortfalls in generation
capacity potentially could occur in most of its regions over the
next decade due to the growth in electricity demand. The biggest
shortfall would be in the Western Systems Coordinating Council
(17,200 MW). This would be followed by the Mid-Atlantic Area
Council (7,100 MW); the Electric Reliability Council of Texas
(5,500 MW); the Southwest Power Pool (5,400 MW); the East Central
Area Reliability Coordination Agreement (4,400 MW) and the
Mid-Continent Area Power Pool (3,500 MW).
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