Today in Cleantech

Venrock Capital’s Matthew Nordan has an excellent analysis of the evolution of natural gas pricing over the past as the price plummeted due to disruptive drilling technology—hydraulic fracking and horizontal well drilling. The new tech combined with the discovery of extensive shale gas deposits drove the price down to where it is right now, about $4.5 $2.11 per mbtus, versus where it had been, about $7 mbtus. I mention this because Nordan makes a point that I’ve made before, which is that everyone in the renewable energy sector should be paying very close attention to the price of natural gas.  As utility power generations shifts to natural gas, as well as some transportation like long haul trucking, the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) will drop, as much as 15 percent according to Nordan’s calculations (battery powered transportation will also become less attractive). It will become even harder for wind and solar to compete. I’ve written about it recently, but the basic point is that Obama is very much in favor of natural gas and if we’re going to bet the ranch on natural gas and we also want to do something about climate change, the government will need to make a very significant technology and research investment in non-carbon emitting forms of energy.

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Adam Lesser

Cleantech Curator Gigaom Research

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