Natural Gas & Electricity
A Necessary Interdependence
By 2050, the world’s population is expected to reach 9 billion, up from around 7 billion today. Combined with rising standards of living, this may double energy demand. At the same time, CO2 emissions must be cut significantly to avoid the serious effects of climate change.
Cleaner-burning natural gas is among the cheapest and fastest solutions for many areas of the world to meet their growing need for energy while curbing CO2. Natural gas is perhaps the cleanest-burning fossil fuel and will be a vital part of the sustainable global energy mix. New natural gas plants are usually cheaper and quicker to build than most other sources of electricity. Natural gas plants built in the recent past have been as a result of relatively low gas prices, displacement of old, less efficient, coal and oil burning units, and the addition of combined-cycle natural gas units.
As a result, it has become necessary for the natural gas and the electric power industries to become more dependent on each other. How this is accomplished, and what that interdependent relationship may be in different parts of our world and what problems have been encountered, is the subject that Michael Henderson and Mohammad Shahidehepour, our issue’s guest editors, have undertaken to investigate and report on. The feature articles of this issue, introduced and described in the “Guest Editorial” column by Mike and Mohammad, cover activities in New England (United States), South America, the European Union, Turkey, South Korea, and the U.S. Eastern Interconnection. In totality, they offer a global picture of status of the interdependence of these two now vitally linked industries.
A Personal View
The issue’s “In My View” column, “Flexibility and Availability: Can the Natural Gas Supply Support These Needs?” by Ross Baldick, offers a fitting conclusion to the issue as well as a personal view of the natural gas-electric power industries interdependence. His personal view is a result of decades- long experiences with combined-cycle plants at the University of Texas campus at Austin. Ross’s column offers an in-depth view of many of the factors associated with the production and utilization of natural gas. He also advocates a need for the natural gas industry to adapt to the 24/7 operation of the electric power industry, which will become its largest single customer, rather than continuing to operate in a traditional 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. trading day.
An Outstanding Year
As this is the year’s final issue, I want to express my gratitude to the Power & Energy Magazine Editorial Board and to Power & Energy Society President Miroslav Begovic for unwavering support. We have had an outstanding editorial year, and for that I want to recognize this year’s guest editors who made it possible: Michael Henderson, Nouredine Hadjsaid, Hugh Rudnick, Ralph Masiello, and Mohammad Shahidehepour. I can never express enough thanks to my friend and associate editor, Carl Sulzberger, for the outstanding “History” columns that grace our pages time and time again. And to Geri Krolin-Taylor and Janet Dudar, who are the ultimate IEEE publishing professionals, my everlasting gratitude.