About 2% of all natural gas produced in the U.S. leaks into the atmosphere before reaching the end customer – about 600 billion cubic feet each year, or the annual gas consumption in Virginia.
This, of course, is one of the key arguments that advocates of nuclear energy use against renewables, i.e., because solar and wind are intermittent, they need to be backed up, and that normally means new gas plants.
What they’re missing, however is:
• The more solar and wind are deployed, the less variable they become. If the wind isn’t blowing in place A, that actually means that is more likely to be blowing in place B.
• The continuing advancement of long-distance power transmission enhances this even further.
• New forms of energy storage are emerging. There are constant improvements in batteries, not to mention compressed air, hydro, hydrogen, and synthetic fuels.
• As the levelized cost of solar and wind continue to fall, they become even more attractive, and this makes the justification of the costs of storage easier.
• Any effort to put a tax on carbon, e.g., the Carbon Fee and Dividend, will accelerate this along at warp speed very quickly.
Moreover, we’re soon to see a new presidential administration in the U.S. How progressive it will be in this arena remains to be seen, but it couldn’t possibly we worse than the one it’s replacing.
There is no silver bullet, and there are no absolutes, either. As all this is changing rapidly.