Rapid fuel switching from coal to natural gas through effective carbon pricing

I. A.Grant Wilson, Iain Staffell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Citations (Scopus)
254 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Great Britain's overall carbon emissions fell by 6% in 2016, due to cleaner electricity production. This was not due to a surge in low-carbon nuclear or renewable sources; instead it was the much-overlooked impact of fuel switching from coal to natural gas generation. This Perspective considers the enabling conditions in Great Britain and the potential for rapid fuel switching in other coal-reliant countries. We find that spare generation and fuel supply-chain capacity must already exist for fuel switching to deliver rapid carbon savings, and to avoid further high-carbon infrastructure lock-in. More important is the political will to alter the marketplace and incentivize this switch, for example, through a stable and strong carbon price. With the right incentives, fuel switching in the power sector could rapidly achieve on the order of 1 GtCO2 saving per year worldwide (3% of global emissions), buying precious time to slow the growth in cumulative carbon emissions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)365-372
Number of pages8
JournalNature Energy
Volume3
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 26 Mar 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Fuel Technology
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology

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