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The shale-gas boom that's flooded the U.S. with cheap natural gas has ended most plans to build...

The shale-gas boom that's flooded the U.S. with cheap natural gas has ended most plans to build nuclear reactors. Utilities are turning to gas-fired plants to generate electricity, with 258 on line to be built through 2015; they're also faster and much less expensive to build. But some in the industry worry about relying too heavily on any one fuel: "Even if it's economical, is it wise?"
Comments (13)
  • Yeah the Saudi Arabia of Natural Gas might control us....oh wait that is


    P.S. us = United States
    16 Mar 2012, 10:49 AM Reply Like
  • Isn't that just the point? It's economical after a warm winter and slow growth. What happens if next winter is cold plus we've got a lot of industrial growth plus new gas fired plants online. Oh, and don't forget nat-gas vehicles.


    Not to mention, I'm not sure the industry has gone through the cycle yet where well depletion of these shale wells is kicking in so fast that its hard to increase production w/o increasing drilling.
    16 Mar 2012, 10:49 AM Reply Like
  • Lots what ifs in that there comment.
    16 Mar 2012, 08:29 PM Reply Like
  • When the truth is finally told about the ecological and environmental damage (still ongoing) from Fukushima, and the non-reported radiation far in excess of acceptable levels hitting the North American continent on a daily basis, the nuclear industry will be hard pressed to justify its existence.
    16 Mar 2012, 10:56 AM Reply Like
  • unbelievable. why is natural gas so hated?


    is it just the lack of lobbyists?


    clean (relatively), abundant, cheap, local. what's not to love?


    16 Mar 2012, 12:29 PM Reply Like
  • Econ:


    Ironically, it's hated for precisely the reasons you iterate. It's a genuine threat to the left's dedicated efforts to maintain power and control the populace and spin utopian solar/wind fantasies by denying access to cheap and abundant energy. Nuclear isn't nearly as feared by these came culprits because they can always get the populace terrified just by saying, "nuclear." Natural gas, however, needs a more concerted effort to suppress.
    16 Mar 2012, 12:35 PM Reply Like
  • Huh? When did nuclear become the provenance of the left? Some serious spin there....
    16 Mar 2012, 08:31 PM Reply Like
  • The facts are simple and compelling.


    1. There is a glut of natural gas in shale all over most of the U. S. So much of it that we have to reduce drilling to keep the price up! If the price goes any lower it will not pay to drill.


    2. Nat gas fueled power plants cost much less to build, are not subject to threat of continuing new regulatory requirements, are much more likely to be accepted by the public and by financial institutions.


    3. Gas turbine combined cycle plants are much cheaper to operate and maintain, and they will continue to be so.


    4. There is a shortage of skilled nuclaer engineers and operators because of the above points.


    5. The only foreseeable concern about the future availability of nat gas as a fuel for power generators is the build out of the gas transmission and distribution piping systems; and there is and will be plenty of non government financing to accomplish this.


    Bottom line gas is here to not invest in coal or nuke.
    16 Mar 2012, 12:32 PM Reply Like
  • I agree, pipeline companies I like.
    16 Mar 2012, 08:32 PM Reply Like
  • So maybe the investment opportunity here is in the builders of those 258 new gas-powered plants. And who would that be? GE?
    16 Mar 2012, 12:37 PM Reply Like
  • Vireoman,


    GE, Siemens, Hitachi, and a few more.


    Also manufacturers of large compressors for nat gas, and very large waste heat boilers (unfired steam generators).
    16 Mar 2012, 12:44 PM Reply Like
  • a quick primer on electricity generation


    historically - utilites like to have a diversity of supply


    base load - always on - nuclear and coal are the cheapest options - they come in big chunks of capacity - think 500 MW or larger - the capital and operating and fuel costs of these behemoths gives them scale advantages over most anything else. They are not flexible - they are costly to ramp up and down.


    peak and sub peak loads - power demand varies through the day - utilities handle this with interruptible contracts but they also use gas and hydro power - hydro very cheap and very flexible. gas turbines are also flexible and until recently the fuel costs have made this expensve - but not anymore. Gas can come in smaller chunks - think 100 to 500 MW increments.


    I ignore wind and solar. they are irrelevant.


    in the old datys with expensive gas - it was hard to make the case for 100% gas power gen - these days given the advantages plus the cheap fule cost it hard to go any other way for new capacity.


    16 Mar 2012, 02:19 PM Reply Like
  • Econdoc,


    Right on, except you have underestimated nat gas fuelled gas turbine combined cycle plants. GTCC are the most efficient and now the most economic base load plants, except maybe nuclear. Nuclear O&M costs are essentially fixed, so it pays to run them all you can. New nukes will be cancelled (in favor of GTCC) because of high permitting and construction cost.


    22 Mar 2012, 12:26 AM Reply Like
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