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50% rise in global gas output forecast

Global gas energy production will rise 50% by 2035 because of competitive prices and government policy as well as the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, a report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) said last week.

Its interim special report for the World Energy Outlook 2011− due in November − said that gas extraction would grow from 3.3 trillion cubic metres in 2010 to 5.1 trillion cubic metres by 2035.

The use of unconventional sources such as shale gas have increased the estimates but a decline in preference for nuclear − particularly following the Japan disaster − as well as favourable prices have influenced the predicted rise.

“Its increased use could muscle out low carbon fuels, such as renewables and nuclear − particularly in the wake of the incident at Fukushima,” said IEA executive director Nobuo Tanaka.

The report also downgrades estimates for nuclear power generation by 10% between now and 2035.

IEA analyst Dan Dorner said that cheaper gas would also make it more difficult for more expensive renewable sources to compete.. Engineers and MPs in the UK have already said that there would be a dash for gas this decade to compensate for coal-powered plants coming offline from 2015 onwards and before Round 3 offshore wind and nuclear come online from 2020 (NCE 24 March 2011).

Gas is also expected to be used in the UK to compensate for intermittent power generation from renewables. The Energy Bill now before parliament is to make it easier to build gas fired plants.

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