Coal Power Generation Conversion to Natural Gas-Fly in Ointment

Burning natural gas, for instance, produces nearly half as much carbon dioxide per unit of energy compared with coal.

But natural gas has a climate downside—it’s mostly composed of methane. “Methane is a potent greenhouse gas,” said energy researcher Adam Brandt of Stanford University. The gas is about 30 times better at holding in the atmosphere’s heat compared with carbon dioxide. So if enough methane leaks during production, natural gas’s slim advantage over other fuels could be wiped out.

The Environmental Protection Agency provides estimates of methane emitted in the United States.

These official estimates, however, probably underestimate total methane leaked because the devices that are sampled to provide those estimates aren’t necessarily representative of all of the devices used by the natural gas industry to produce and move its product.

Studies that have directly measured methane levels have gotten much different results. Atmospheric tests that have covered the entire United States come up with methane emissions that are about 50 percent higher than the EPA estimates, according the new paper in Science .

Partly that’s because air sampling will pick up both anthropogenic methane and methane from natural sources, such as wetlands. But it’s also because the EPA’s methods are so inaccurate—natural sources only account for a fraction of the discrepancy*.*

Well is there a way to tighten up EPA measurement methods. It would seem to me that it is crucial that accurate data is needed when making national power generation decisions rather than relying on wild *ss guesses.


It is probably possible to detect methane emissions and concentration from space. Then focus on worst regions and monitor progress.

There seems to be a need for resources in this area. And of course industry will block or delay at every opportunity.


Yes. News story below says a NASA satellite has detected large amounts of natural gas leakage in Turkmenistan.

From the article…
Methane leaks alone from Turkmenistan’s two main fossil fuel fields caused more global heating in 2022 than the entire carbon emissions of the United Kingdom, satellite data has revealed.

Emissions of the potent greenhouse gas from the oil- and gas-rich country are “mind-boggling,” and an “infuriating” problem that should be easy to fix, experts have told the Guardian.

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Turkmenistan is where the Darvaza crater is located. It has been on fire since the 1970s and keeps burning.

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There might be some good news, however. As posted by Pucksfool here last month, methane may be less significant of a greenhouse gas than previously thought.

  • Pete

Your reference is from studies done before 2014. We know more about methane currently.

At this point in time, the measures that we, that is humans, are talking about regrading mitigating GCC is in the moving the deck chairs on the Titanic category of fixes.


Once satellites tell you which regions have the most emissions, it should be easy to follow up with lower level measurements to identify offending sites. Regulators in the US should be able to take action and either require compliance or pay big fines.

This should make for big improvements. But are the regulations clear? Or subject to discussion and lawsuits? Big oil will oppose at every step.

World scale compliance would be nice but is methane emission regulated globally? By whom?

Wishing and dreaming don’t do much to solve the problem. We need regulations and people to enforce them.


I disagree. Regulations are in place or being put in place. You can not judge the results of these regulations currently. It takes a few years of industry changes and compliance to see the effects. Of course the big fossil fuel companies will fight and changes and compliance with all the money. So we need to elect more people into offices to tke more control of enforcing new reqgulations. We need to get fossil fuel money out of our politics.

[quote=“pauleckler, post:6, topic:92318”]
Wishing and dreaming don’t do much to solve the problem. We need regulations and people to enforce them.


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