Natural Gas Scenarios in the U.S. Power Sector

Jeffrey Logan, Anthony Lopez, Trieu Mai, Carolyn Davidson, Morgan Bazilian, Douglas Arent

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus Citations


The United States power sector is being transformed by the recent rise in the availability and use of unconventional natural gas, specifically shale gas. That transformation has already produced some of the most significant changes in the operation of the portfolio of electricity generation since WWII. Further implications are likely. To that end, we present results from numerical modeling of different United States (U.S.) power sector futures. These futures assess questions affecting today's natural gas and electric power markets, including the impacts of: forthcoming EPA rules on power plants, decarbonization options such as a clean energy standard (CES), potential improvements in key generation technologies, expanded use of natural gas outside of the power generation sector, and higher costs for natural gas production-assumed to arise from more robust environmental and safety practices in the field. The simulations were done using the ReEDS model looking out to the year 2050. ReEDS is a capacity expansion model that determines the least-cost combination of generation options that fulfill a variety of user-defined constraints such as projected load, capacity reserve margins, emissions limitations, and operating lifetimes. The baseline scenario shows strong growth in natural gas generation, leading to a roughly 2.5-fold increase in gas demand by 2050. Many other scenarios also see strong growth in gas-fired generation, highlighting questions about portfolio diversity, climate change, and research and development prioritization.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)183-195
Number of pages13
JournalEnergy Economics
StatePublished - Nov 2013

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-6A50-57087


  • Energy policy
  • Power sector modeling
  • Unconventional natural gas


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