for nat­u­ral gas is a re­sult of an on­go­ing at­tempt by world lead­ers to phase out coal con­sump­tion. In its 2015 out­look, un­der a sce­nario that as­sumes heavy en­vi­ron­men­tal re­stric­tion, the IEA fore­casts that coal’s share of the global elec­tric­ity mix will fall to 30 per cent by 2040, down from its cur­rent por­tion of 41 per cent. Be­cause is it seen as the “clean­est” of the fos­sil fu­els, cre­at­ing 30 per cent less emis­sions than oil, nat­u­ral gas is seen as the least-harm­ful fuel to fill the void left by coal — espe­cially as peo­ple seem to grow steadily more wary about nu­clear power.

North Amer­i­can de­mand for nat­u­ral gas is by no means the driver of global de­mand, but it will none­the­less see steady de­mand growth for nat­u­ral gas as gov­ern­ments turn to cleaner sources of elec­tric­ity. In a re­port that fore­casts nat­u­ral gas de­mand out to 2050, Solomon As­so­ci­ates says nat­u­ral gas for power gen­er­a­tion in North Amer­ica will in­crease from 28 bil­lion cu­bic feet per day (bcf/d) to­day to over 42 bcf/d in 2050, an in­crease of nearly 50 per cent (that’s an average of about 0.5-per cent growth per year). “When we ex­am­ine gas de­mand over a long hori­zon, as our 2050 out­look does, the shear mag­ni­tude of growth be­comes ap­par­ent,” says Bill Gwozd, Solomon’s se­nior vice-pres­i­dent of gas ser­vices.

The most sig­nif­i­cant North Amer­i­can coal-re­lated pol­icy to date is U.S. Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which threw coal pro­duc­ing states into a frenzy when it was first im­ple­mented in June 2014. In Canada, and more re­cently in Al­berta, new reg­u­la­tions around coal power and air qual­ity will re­duce over­all emis­sions from coal sig­nif­i­cantly. For its part, Al­berta is push­ing to phase out coal by 2030. By one es­ti­mate, which was cited by Al­berta’s Cli­mate Change Panel in its note to the en­vi­ron­ment min­is­ter, coal­fired power gen­er­a­tion ca­pac­ity across Canada will fall to 2,500 MW in 2030, down from over 6,000 MW to­day.

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