Skip to content Skip to navigation

Is a natural gas ban an ‘antidote to climate change’?

Tuesday, November 12, 2019
Anthony R. Kovscek

As governments in California increasingly consider limiting new residential natural gas connections, it is important to question whether banning natural gas is an “antidote to climate change.”

Californians can take great pride in our nation-leading increases in the fraction of renewables used to generate electricity. The total renewable fraction in 2018 is about 40%, including hydroelectricity. This is twice what it was a decade earlier. On a sunny summer day, California’s solar farms, rooftop installations, and wind provide roughly 50% of the electrical energy consumed at noon, but at midnight the fraction of electricity provided by renewables drops to about 20%. With the setting of the sun, solar electricity is replaced principally by natural gas fired electricity. The flexibility and fast response of natural gas power plants has enabled the rise in renewables, of which we are rightly proud, by providing the necessary backup and power to stabilize our grid.