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Life Cycle Analysis: Natural Gas

Life Cycle Analysis of Natural Gas Extraction and Power Generation

Date: 8/30/2016
Contact: Timothy J. Skone, P.E.

This report is an update to the NETL 2014 life cycle analysis report of environmental profile for natural gas production and delivery in the United States. This report expands the scope of the environmental profile to include a broad range of impacts and updates the greenhouse gas (GHG) profile to reflect year 2012 production statistics and emission factors based on the current state of science as in 2015. The national methane emission rate is 1.6 percent and ranges between 1.2 and 2.2 percent. This national emission rate is a production weighted composite of 31 different combinations of extraction technologies and regions. The report also evaluates the life cycle environmental profile for producing electricity from natural gas. On 100- and 20-year time frames, the life cycle GHG emissions for baseload electricity from the existing fleet of natural gas fired power plants are 514 and 613 kg CO2e/MWh, respectively.


Life Cycle Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Natural Gas and Power Production

Date: 2/23/2016
Contact: Timothy J. Skone, P.E.

This presentation was given at the EPRI Winter Meeting, Natural Gas Interest Group in February, 2016 and provided the technical details behind and results from the life cycle greenhouse gas analysis of natural gas extraction across the United States and its use in power production relative to coal-fired power.


Managing Uncertainty in Life Cycle Analysis of Natural Gas Energy Systems: Two Case Studies

Date: 10/6/2015
Contact: Timothy J. Skone, P.E.

Two case studies are presented that show how Monte Carlo can reduce uncertainty in LCA results. The first case study is based on NETL's upstream natural gas model. Parameterized life cycle models provide flexibility in the specification of uncertainty ranges around parameters. The second case study demonstrates the ways in which too many parameters can confound the interpretation of results when a different question is being asked, namely picking the “better” scenario. The uncertainty can be reduced by identifying the common parameters between scenarios and holding those values constant while Monte Carlo simulation is applied to the remaining parameters. While this negatively affects the absolute values generate by the models, it provides a more direct comparison between the scenarios and allows us to focus on the parameters that differentiate options and identify true opportunities for improvement. This document of study results was presented at the LCA XV Conference in October, 2015


Life Cycle Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Natural Gas and Power Production

Date: 6/15/2015
Contact: Timothy J. Skone, P.E.

This presentation was given at the 2015 Energy Information Administration (EIA) Energy Conference. It discusses the importance of understanding greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the power and natural gas sectors, and then goes into more detail on the life cycle GHG emissions from natural gas and from power generation in general.


Understanding the Importance of Leakage Rates to the GHG Footprint of Natural Gas Production

Date: 10/7/2014
Contact: Timothy J. Skone, P.E.

This presentation was given at the LCA XIV Conference. It further examines the boundary assumptions behind recent methane leakage studies. It then provides details behind a life cycle model that can be used to reconcile inconsistent boundary choices and inform critical policy questions regarding future use of fossil fuels.


Life cycle GHG Footprint of a U.S. Energy Export Market for Coal and Natural Gas

Date: 10/7/2014
Contact: Timothy J. Skone, P.E.

This presentation was given at the LCA XIV Conference and shows that the majority of life cycle GHG emissions come from power plants; even the LNG export scenarios, which lose approximately 10% of transported natural gas to parasitic loads, have lower life cycle GHG emissions than the coal scenarios.


Natural Gas and Power LCA Model Documentation (NG Report)

Date: 5/29/2014
Contact: Timothy J. Skone, P.E.

Natural gas is considered a cleaner burning and more flexible alternative to other fossil fuels today. It is used in residential, commercial, industrial, and transportation applications in addition to having an expanding role in power production. However, the primary component of natural gas is methane, which is also a powerful greenhouse gas (GHG). Methane losses from natural gas extraction vary geographically and by extraction technology. This analysis inventories the GHG emissions from extraction, processing, and transmission of natural gas to large end users, and the combustion of that natural gas to produce electricity. In addition to GHG emissions, this analysis inventories other air emissions, water quality, water use, land use, and resource energy metrics.


LCA GHG Report (LNG Report)

Date: 5/29/2014
Contact: Timothy J. Skone, P.E.

This analysis calculates the life cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from liquefied natural gas (LNG) exported from the U.S. and combusted by power plants in Europe or Asia and compares them to regional coal combusted by power plants in Europe and Asia. This analysis also calculates the GHG emissions from natural gas that is extracted in Russia and delivered by pipeline to European and Asian power plants. This analysis is based on data that were originally developed to represent U.S. energy systems: foreign natural gas and coal production were modeled as represented by U.S. natural gas production and average U.S. coal production. The results show that the use of U.S. LNG exports for power production in European and Asian markets will not increase GHG emissions, on a life cycle perspective, when compared to regional coal extraction and consumption for power production.


Understanding the Life Cycle Environmental Footprint of the Natural Gas Value Chain

Date: 2/1/2014
Contact: Timothy J. Skone, P.E.

This is a presentation given to the North Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC), Gas Subcommittee meeting on February 9, 2014. The agenda includes the importance of understanding methane emissions from the natural gas sector, the Department of Energy Office's role in reducing methane emissions from the natural gas value chain, and a primer on life cycle analysis and understanding the life cycle environmental footprint of the natural gas value chain


LCA and the U.S. Natural Gas Resource

Date: 12/1/2013
Contact: Timothy J. Skone, P.E.

From a life cycle perspective, baseload power is NETL's preferred basis for comparing energy sources. For fossil energy systems, the emissions from power plants account for the majority of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. However, focusing on the activities that precede the power plant is still necessary in order to identify near-term opportunities for GHG emission reductions. NETL's upstream natural gas model allows detailed modeling of the extraction, processing, and pipeline transmission of natural gas. This model can identify key contributors to the GHG emissions from the natural gas supply chain, and has parameters that can be used to assess opportunities for reducing GHG emissions. The model shows that current domestic natural gas extraction, processing, and pipeline technologies leak 1.2% of the methane that is extracted at the wellhead. Improved practices, such as those in the latest New Source Performance Standards (NSPS), can reduce this upstream methane leakage rate.


Improved Natural Gas Extraction as a Strategy for Reducing Climate Impacts of Transportation

Date: 10/2/2013
Contact: Timothy J. Skone, P.E.

This presentation discusses a gas-to-liquids (GTL) system that nominally produces 50,000 bbl/day of fuels fungible in the refined product infrastructure without further refining steps. The system produces 15,500 bbl/day of finished motor gasoline, and 34,500 bbl/day of low-density diesel fuel. The life cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for GTL diesel and gasoline, when based on current practices in the natural gas industry, are 90.6 g CO2e/MJ and 89.4 g CO2e/MJ, respectively. If the natural gas extraction and processing sector complies with New Source Performance Standards (NSPS), the upstream GHG emissions from natural gas are reduced by 23 percent.


Cradle-to-Gate Life Cycle Analysis Model for Alternative Sources of Carbon Dioxide (Presentation)

Date: 9/30/2013
Contact: Timothy J. Skone, P.E.

While post-combustion capture at power plants may represent the best near-term opportunity for CO2 capture, there are other sources of CO2 in nature and industry. This analysis accounts for the environmental burdens of CO2 from three alternative sources: natural CO2 domes, natural gas processing plants, and ammonia production plants. This analysis uses a life cycle analysis (LCA) approach for developing data and modeling CO2 systems. The energy and material flows for key processes in the CO2 supply chain were calculated. These processes were then compiled in a model that scaled the flows between processes to arrive at an inventory of environmental burdens on a common basis (e.g., 1 kilogram of CO2 ready for compression and pipeline transport).


Cradle-to-Gate Life Cycle Analysis Model for Alternative Sources of Carbon Dioxide (Report)

Date: 9/30/2013
Contact: Timothy J. Skone, P.E.

While post-combustion capture at power plants may represent the best near-term opportunity for CO2 capture, there are other sources of CO2 in nature and industry. This analysis accounts for the environmental burdens of CO2 from three alternative sources: natural CO2 domes, natural gas processing plants, and ammonia production plants. This analysis uses a life cycle analysis (LCA) approach for developing data and modeling CO2 systems. The energy and material flows for key processes in the CO2 supply chain were calculated. These processes were then compiled in a model that scaled the flows between processes to arrive at an inventory of environmental burdens on a common basis (e.g., 1 kilogram of CO2 ready for compression and pipeline transport).


Analysis of Natural Gas-to-Liquid Transportation Fuels via Fischer-Tropsch

Date: 9/1/2013
Contact: Erik Shuster

This study models a gas-to-liquids (GTL) system that nominally produces 50,000 bbl/day of fuels fungible in the refined product infrastructure without further refining steps. Specifically, the system produces 15,500 bbl/day of finished motor gasoline, and 34,500 bbl/day of low-density diesel fuel. The study provides an updated evaluation of cost, technical, and environmental performance. With an estimated total as-spent capital cost of 4.3 billion dollars (3.7 &spamp;ndash; 5.6 billion dollars) or $86,188 ($73,260 - $112,045) per bbl of daily production of Fischer-Tropsch liquids, such a facility would be commercially viable should the market conditions (liquid fuel and natural gas prices) remain as favorable or better throughout the life of the project than during the middle of May 2013. The life cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for GTL diesel and gasoline when based on current practices in the natural gas industry are 90.6 g CO2e/MJ and 89.4 g CO


Life Cycle Analysis: Natural Gas Combined Cycle (NGCC) Power Plant Report

Date: 6/1/2013
Contact: Timothy J. Skone, P.E.

The Life Cycle Analysis of a natural gas combined cycle plant (NGCC) develops an inventory of emissions results and calculates life cycle costs for the plant with and without CCS.


LCA: Natural Gas Combined Cycle (NGCC) Power Plant

Date: 6/1/2013
Contact: Timothy J. Skone, P.E.

LCA of a Natural Gas Combined Cycle plant. Develops an Inventory of emissions results, and calculates Life Cycle costs for the plant with and without CCS.


Life Cycle Analysis: Natural Gas Combined Cycle (NGCC) Power Plant Presentation

Date: 6/1/2013
Contact: Timothy J. Skone, P.E.

The Life Cycle Analysis of a natural gas combined cycle plant (NGCC) develops an inventory of emissions results and calculates life cycle costs for the plant with and without CCS.


Power Systems Life Cycle Analysis Tool Report

Date: 6/1/2013
Contact: Justin Adder

The Power Systems Life Cycle Analysis Tool (Power LCAT) is a high-level dynamic model that calculates production costs and tracks environmental performance for a range of electricity generation technologies: natural gas combined cycle (NGCC), integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC), supercritical pulverized coal (SCPC), existing pulverized coal (EXPC), nuclear, and wind (with and without backup power). All of the fossil fuel technologies also include the option of carbon capture and sequestration technologies (CCS). The model allows for quick sensitivity analysis on key technical and financial assumptions, such as: capital, O&M, and fuel costs; interest rates; construction time; heat rates; taxes; depreciation; and capacity factors. Power LCAT is targeted at helping policy makers, students, and interested stakeholders understand the economic and environmental tradeoffs associated with various electricity production options.


Power Systems Life Cycle Analysis Tool (Model)

Date: 6/1/2013
Contact: Justin Adder

The Power Systems Life Cycle Analysis Tool (Power LCAT) is a high-level dynamic model that calculates production costs and tracks environmental performance for a range of electricity generation technologies: natural gas combined cycle (NGCC), integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC), supercritical pulverized coal (SCPC), existing pulverized coal (EXPC), nuclear, and wind (with and without backup power). All of the fossil fuel technologies also include the option of carbon capture and sequestration technologies (CCS). The model allows for quick sensitivity analysis on key technical and financial assumptions, such as: capital, O&M, and fuel costs; interest rates; construction time; heat rates; taxes; depreciation; and capacity factors. Power LCAT is targeted at helping policy makers, students, and interested stakeholders understand the economic and environmental tradeoffs associated with various electricity production options.


Unconventional Natural Gas: An LCA with a Conventional Answer

Date: 10/3/2012
Contact: Timothy J. Skone, P.E.

LCA of a Natural Gas Combined Cycle plant. Develops an Inventory of emissions results and calculates Life Cycle costs for the plant with and without CCS.


LCA XII Presentation - Role of Alternative Energy Sources: Technology Assessment Compilation

Date: 10/1/2012
Contact: Robert James

NETL has applied a single set of methods for calculating the environmental, cost, and other aspects of seven options for baseload power generation. LCA is used to calculate environmental results, and life cycle boundaries are also applied to cost results. A set of other technical and non-technical criteria are used to gain a broad understanding of the roles of alternative energy sources in the U.S. energy portfolio.


Life Cycle Greenhouse Gas Inventory Sensitivity to Changes in Natural Gas System Parameters

Date: 9/27/2012
Contact: Timothy J. Skone, P.E.

This presentation focuses on the greenhouse gases from the extraction, processing, and delivery of natural gas and the key variables that affect the results. It includes eight distinct sources of natural gas and performs a number of sensitivity studies. The production rate of natural gas wells, episodic emission factors and the flaring rate have the most impact on the cradle-to-gate emissions profile, while power plant heat rate or efficiency most affects the cradle-to-grave emissions. New Source Performance Standards have recently focused on the oil and gas sector and could be effective at reducing the upstream emissions from natural gas systems.


LCA XII Presentation: Life Cycle GHG Inventory Sensitivity to Changes in Natural Gas System Parameters

Date: 9/27/2012
Contact: Timothy J. Skone, P.E.

This presentation discusses life cycle inventories of cradle-to-gate delivered natural gas fuel and cradle-to-grave natural gas fired electricity generation with a focus on greenhouse gas emissions. The study looks at eight distinct sources of natural gas and performs a number of sensitivity studies. The results show that production rate, episodic emission factors and the flaring rate have the most impact on the cradle-to-gate emissions profile, while power plant heat rate or efficiency most affects the cradle-to-grave emissions.


Role of Alternative Energy Sources: Natural Gas Technology Assessment (Presentation)

Date: 6/30/2012
Contact: Timothy J. Skone, P.E.

This peer-reviewed analysis is one of a series of Technology Assessments of power production and evaluates the role of natural gas power in the future energy portfolio of the U.S. Natural gas power is evaluated with respect to resource base, growth potential, environmental profile, costs, barriers, risks, and expert opinions. Natural gas is seen as a cleaner burning and flexible alternative to other fossil fuels, and is used in residential, industrial, and transportation applications in addition to an expanding role in power production. New technologies have allowed increased domestic production of natural gas. The projected supply contributions afforded by new natural gas plays may keep the price of natural gas relatively low for the foreseeable future. Since natural gas is comprised mostly of methane, the control of fugitive emissions is imperative to reduce the greenhouse gas footprint of natural gas.


Role of Alternative Energy Sources: Natural Gas Technology Assessment (Report)

Date: 6/30/2012
Contact: Timothy J. Skone, P.E.

This peer-reviewed analysis is one of a series of Technology Assessments of power production and evaluates the role of natural gas power in the future energy portfolio of the U.S. Natural gas power is evaluated with respect to resource base, growth potential, environmental profile, costs, barriers, risks, and expert opinions. Natural gas is seen as a cleaner burning and flexible alternative to other fossil fuels, and is used in residential, industrial, and transportation applications in addition to an expanding role in power production. New technologies have allowed increased domestic production of natural gas. The projected supply contributions afforded by new natural gas plays may keep the price of natural gas relatively low for the foreseeable future. Since natural gas is comprised mostly of methane, the control of fugitive emissions is imperative to reduce the greenhouse gas footprint of natural gas.


Role of Alternative Energy Sources: Natural Gas Technology Assessment (Fact Sheet)

Date: 5/11/2012
Contact: Timothy J. Skone, P.E.

This peer-reviewed analysis is one of a series of Technology Assessments of power production and evaluates the role of natural gas power in the future energy portfolio of the U.S. Natural gas power is evaluated with respect to resource base, growth potential, environmental profile, costs, barriers, risks, and expert opinions. Natural gas is seen as a cleaner burning and flexible alternative to other fossil fuels, and is used in residential, industrial, and transportation applications in addition to an expanding role in power production. New technologies have allowed increased domestic production of natural gas. The projected supply contributions afforded by new natural gas plays may keep the price of natural gas relatively low for the foreseeable future. Since natural gas is comprised mostly of methane, the control of fugitive emissions is imperative to reduce the greenhouse gas footprint of natural gas.


Power Systems Life Cycle Analysis Tool (Power LCAT) Technical Guide

Date: 5/1/2012
Contact: Justin Adder

Power LCAT is a high-level dynamic model that calculates production costs and tracks environmental performance for a range of electricity generation technologies. This report summarizes key assumptions and results for version 2.0 of Power LCAT. This report has three goals: to explain the basic methodology used to calculate production costs and to estimate environmental performance; to provide a general overview of the model operation and initial results; and to demonstrate the wide range of options for conducting sensitivity analysis.


Life Cycle Assessment of Natural Gas Extraction, Delivery and Electricity Production - NAS/TRB Conference Presentation

Date: 1/1/2012
Contact: Timothy J. Skone, P.E.

This presentation was given at the National Academy of Sciences, 91st Annual Transportation Research Board Meeting in Washington, D.C. on January 25. NETL reports natural gas fired power production GHG emissions to be 53% lower than average base load coal fired power production. The presentation provides an overview of NETL's greenhouse gas results for various types of natural gas, including Marcellus Shale, and compares the results for natural gas fired power production to coal fired power production. The presentation focused on understanding the variability and uncertainty in recent natural gas GHG estimates.


Life Cycle Greenhouse Gas Inventory of Natural Gas Extraction, Delivery and Electricity Production (Report)

Date: 10/1/2011
Contact: Timothy J. Skone, P.E.

This report details the life cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from six domestic sources of natural gas and a national average mix for extraction and delivery to a large end user. The report also compares the use of natural gas for power production to coal-fired power production based on the delivery of 1 MWh of electricity to the end user. Results demonstrate that natural gas-fired baseload power production has life cycle GHG emissions 42 to 53 percent lower than those for coal-fired baseload electricity, after accounting for a wide range of variability and compared across different assumptions of climate impact timing.


Life Cycle Greenhouse Gas Inventory of Natural Gas Extraction, Delivery and Electricity Production (Presentation)

Date: 10/1/2011
Contact: Timothy J. Skone, P.E.

This presentation details the life cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from six domestic sources of natural gas and a national average mix for extraction and delivery to a large end user. The report also compares the use of natural gas for power production to coal-fired power production based on the delivery of 1 MWh of electricity to the end user. Results demonstrate that natural gas-fired baseload power production has life cycle GHG emissions 42 to 53 percent lower than those for coal-fired baseload electricity, after accounting for a wide range of variability and compared across different assumptions of climate impact timing.


Life Cycle Greenhouse Gas Analysis of Natural Gas Extraction & Delivery in the United States

Date: 5/1/2011
Contact: Timothy J. Skone, P.E.

On May 12, 2011 NETL provided this presentation at the Cornell University lecture series on unconventional natural gas development. The presentation summarizes the life cycle analysis (LCA) greenhouse gas (GHG) research on natural gas extraction and delivery in the United States (on a lb CO2e/MMBtu basis) and a comparison of the life cycle GHG profiles of average natural gas and coal-fired power production and delivery to an end-user (lb CO2e/MWh basis). Specifically, the presentation details seven natural gas profiles: onshore conventional gas, associated gas, offshore gas, tight sands (gas), shale gas (based on Barnett Shale), coal bed methane gas, and the year 2009 domestic average mix. Each natural gas source is upgraded in a gas processing plant, compressed, and delivered to a large end-user (e.g., power plant).