Gas to become dominant baseload fuel for US generation by 2017: Bentek
Houston (Platts)--6Dec2012/336 pm EST/2036 GMT
Natural gas will increase its market share as a baseload fuel source for
US power generation to 32% by 2017 from an average 23% over the last five
years, Bentek Energy said Thursday.
Meanwhile, coal's market share is projected at 38% in 2017, from 44% in
2011, Bentek said.
This shift will kickstart a new symbiotic gas cycle in which gas supply
and demand growth are more codependent and correlated, Bentek, a unit of
Platts, said in a report.
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"Ample and still-growing gas-fired generation capacity, regulatory
uncertainty, abundant gas production, record-high storage inventories,
sufficient gas pipeline transportation and competitive gas prices all
contributed to these changes," Bentek said. "This new market cycle will be
marked by increased price responsiveness by gas producers and the power
industry, greater price volatility, infrastructure expansions, and greater
integration of the gas and electricity grids."
This year, gas-fired generation climbed 20%, or 186 million MWh/year,
throughout the US and Bentek forecasts that will increase another 15%, or 170
million MWh/year, by 2017. This will arrive at the expense of coal, whose
power generation market share fell 9%, or 159 million MWh/year, this year and
is projected to remain nearly flat through 2017.
Total US gas burn for power will climb another 4 Bcf/d over the next
five years, from a record high of 25.1 Bcf/d this year to 29 Bcf/d in 2017,
the report posits, Bentek said. And gas displacement of coal in generation
will triple over the next five years, averaging 7.8 Bcf/d by 2017 compared to
an average 2.6 Bcf/d over the past five years, it said.
"This incremental demand will test gas pipeline infrastructure and
amplify constraints in some regions, contributing to volatility in gas flows
and prides," Bentek said.
From a regional perspective, increases in year-round baseload gas
generation in the Northeast will exacerbate winter pipeline constraints on
peak heating load days, Bentek said. "Similarly, competing demand from
Mexican exports and limited pipeline capacity in the Southwest will increase
volatility and lead to basis premiums," it said.
In the eastern US, gas generation will overtake coal for the first time
in 2015, coming in at 35% of the market share to coal's 34% during that time
frame, Bentek said. By 2017, gas' share will hit 37%, while coal declines to
33%, it said.
In the Southeast, coal-to-gas switching made the area a net demand
region this year for the first time, Bentek said. Southeast demand exceeded
local supply by nearly 700,000 Mcf/d, it said. Going forward, it is estimated
Marcellus Shale gas will make the Northeast a net supplier during shoulder
months in 2014 for the first time, Bentek said.
Overall gas power plant capacity is expected to increase by nearly
40,000 MW by 2017, Bentek said. Some 36% of this new capacity is under
construction and more than 50% is located in the eastern US. Meanwhile, a net
16,000 MW of coal plant capacity will be retired nationally during the same
time frame, it said. More than 18,000 MW of that retiring capacity will be in
the East, but will be offset by about 4,000 MW of new coal capacity coming
online in the Rockies and Midcontinent producing regions.
"Increasing reliance on gas for power, however, will result in some new
power market challenges, including the need for better integration of the gas
and power markets, improved scheduling methods and competition between
heating and cooling load," Bentek cautioned.
--Samantha Santa Maria, firstname.lastname@example.org
--Edited by Richard Rubin, email@example.com