INGAA Foundation Study Affirms Natural Gas’ Importance in Coming Decades Amid Surge of Renewables

Black & Veatch-led report offers detailed analyses of gas’ future opportunity to play critical role in supporting low carbon energy

OVERLAND PARK, Kan., May 9, 2019  – The new INGAA Foundation Inc. flagship report finds that natural gas will retain its critical role in the U.S. power sector for at least the next 20 years even as renewable energy grabs a bigger share of the nation’s electricity market. This trend, coupled with growing global demand for U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports, underscores the need for the gas industry’s continued investment in infrastructure to support these growing needs, according to Black & Veatch, the author of the report.

Commissioned by the INGAA Foundation, which represents the full value chain of the natural gas transmission industry, “The Role of Natural Gas in the Transition to a Lower-Carbon Economy” examines key drivers that could affect the consumption of natural gas and the use of gas infrastructure from 2020 to 2040. With extensive analyses backed by modeling and industry expertise, the report centers on two scenarios that focus on different paths toward an energy mix increasingly reliant on renewable energy. The conclusion: Natural gas is expected to complement renewable resources.

The report, released Tuesday, indicates that the case for natural gas infrastructure investment remains strong as the market is being reshaped by rising global gas supply from the United States and other newer producers. Investments focused on adding flexibility to the system will be critical to support the rapidly evolving electricity market.

Demand growth from developing Asian economies, global policy choices supporting cleaner energy sources, lower costs for renewables and significant geopolitical shifts also support the case for investment. While Africa, Europe and India have set aggressive renewable energy targets by 2030, according to Black & Veatch’s recent 2019 Strategic Directions: Natural Gas Report, natural gas is attractive to emerging markets due to certain advantages over newer technologies such as battery storage and other alternative fuels based on price, reliability and access.  Infrastructure that will enable the transport of gas to export facilities will play a vital role in serving these markets.

Based on natural gas’ profile as a safe, flexible, low-cost and clean-burning catalyst for reliable energy across the globe, the INGAA Foundation report offers some key findings:

  • Natural gas will play a key role in a balanced path to a low-carbon economy by providing reliable, low-cost base load power and the flexibility to integrate more renewables.
  • Even with a highly aggressive scenario of renewables penetration, the current domestic natural gas pipeline infrastructure will continue serving traditional end-use sectors as well as emerging markets, including liquefied natural gas and pipeline exports to the global market over the next two decades.
  • Rising gas production and demand could spur the need for up to 21 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) of new gas pipelines.
  • The demand for more flexible and dispatchable power resources may drive an evolution of the gas transmission industry.

“Natural gas has undergone a transformation over the past decade, and this study illustrates that its evolution will continue, as a valuable flexible energy source within a low carbon U.S. energy mix,” said Deepa Poduval, associate vice president and industry executive for oil and gas at Black & Veatch Management Consulting. “We have a decades-long track record of providing deep expertise on gas-electric interdependence issues, and we’re honored to have partnered with the INGAA Foundation in this thoughtful examination.”

Don Santa, the INGAA Foundation’s president, said the analysis in the flagship report can inform policymakers, key stakeholders and the industry about the role that natural gas and gas pipeline infrastructure can play in the transition to a cleaner energy economy.

As a trusted partner with companies working to meet the world’s demand for energy through everything from natural gas to renewables and power solutions, Black & Veatch has decades of proven performance on more than 3,000 natural gas-related assignments in dozens of countries.

Editor’s note: 

  • For a copy of the report, click here.