Key factors for assessing climate benefits of natural gas versus coal electricity generation

Assessing potential climate effects of natural gas versus coal electricity generation is complicated by the large number of factors reported in life cycle assessment studies, compounded by the large number of proposed climate metrics. Thus, there is a need to identify the key factors affecting the climate effects of natural gas versus coal electricity production, and to present these climate effects in as clear and transparent a way as possible. Here, we identify power plant efficiencies and methane leakage rates as the factors that explain most of the variance in greenhouse gas emissions by natural gas and coal power plants. Thus, we focus on the role of these factors in determining the relative merits of natural gas versus coal power plants.

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