The coal industry may be dying, but the brutal truth of the situation is that clean energy is nowhere near where it should to be to meet the world’s energy needs.
So where are companies turning while coal is in its death throes?
The answer is natural gas, which the United States now has in abundance. And companies like General Electric (NYSE: GE) are making the switch as we speak, while coal plants are shutting down and natural gas plants are expanding.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that gas consumption rose to almost 73 billion cubic feet per day last year, driven mostly by the industrial sector. This year, industrial natural gas usage alone is estimated to rise to 23 bcfpd.
GE supports these numbers. The company expects 3,400 gigawatts of new capacity installations in the next 10 years, with a large percentage of it being from natural gas. Not only is natural gas cleaner than coal, but it also creates more energy per unit of fuel.
This will help lower the costs of manufacturing natural gas energy, which means more power plants can be built to use our growing supply. According to the Forbes report, experts say that low prices — under $6 per million British thermal units — will encourage continued expansion on natural gas energy generation.
The United States currently gets 30% of its electricity from natural gas power plants, and could be getting 50% there by 2035.
“The cheap, abundant and clean natural gas is very important to our future,” says GE’s oil and gas marketing leader, Alberto Rostagno.
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