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Natural Gas Distracts Builders from Solar Innovation

As long as natural gas prices fail to fully reflect the social and environmental costs of extraction, builders will continue turning to gas a component of a net zero design strategy, Bungane Mehlomakulu of Integral Group writes this week in a post on GreenBiz.

But even the use of fuel cell technology “is a progression in technological development, not market transformation,” at a time when “high-cost technological fixes are competing against low-cost PV systems for the lowest total cost of ownership.”

With photovoltaic systems coming in as low as 7¢ per kilowatt-hour, compared to biogas fuel cells at 20¢ now and 9¢ projected by 2020, even high rise buildings can use solar to good advantage. But “the current abundance of natural gas can lead building design teams astray as an apparent low-cost way to achieve net zero energy performance,” Mehlomakulu writes. “Rather, the focus for building performance should remain on energy efficiency to create the opportunity for all-electric buildings to develop and support low-cost PVs.”

Natural gas can still be used as a bridge to a low-carbon economy, he adds, “but only if it is used and managed responsibly, which it is not right now.” (h/t to Environmental News Bits for pointing us to this story)