Natural gas is now tied with coal as the United States’ top source of electricity. It’s a milestone that caps a historic upheaval in the energy industry. Natural gas did what renewable energy has been trying to do on and off for almost four decades. And it did so by winning the race to cost and performance competitiveness: natural gas is cheaper and of equal performance to coal and renewable energy is simply not. For climate and renewable advocates, the rise of natural gas should be more than just the next fossil fuel boogeyman or a short-term cut in greenhouse gases – it should play the role as model for making renewable energy the dominant source of electricity in America (and the world).
Natural gas is just the latest in a long history of the government supporting and investing in breakthrough technologies. Sustained federal government support since the 1970s has proven essential to the industry being able to tap into shale gas with new drilling techniques and technologies. The Breakthrough Institute, a non-partisan think tank, released a study on this very subject last year detailing how decades of government investments in R&D, tax credits, and public-private partnerships made today’s natural gas boom possible. The Associated Press finally picked up the story this week and observes that the Department of Energy invested roughly $137 million in gas research over three decades and that the federal tax credit for drillers constituted $10 billion between 1980 and 2002.
If interested in discussing energy matters, you can contact Court Rich, director of Rose Law Group’s Renewable Energy Implementation Department, email@example.com