Natural Gas Provides Essential Support for Wind Energy – in All of Its Uses
Posted January 31, 2019
As millions of Americans tune in this Sunday to watch football’s Big Game, many (myself included) are mostly watching for what comes during breaks in the action – the notorious Super Bowl commercials. And if you’ve watched a Super Bowl at any point in the last 40 years then you probably know the beer brand Budweiser as a longtime fixture, with ads featuring the Budweiser Clydesdales running since at least 1975, and this year will be no different. Budweiser has previewed a 2019 Super Bowl ad that has just about everything: Clydesdales, April the Dalmatian, Bob Dylan…and wind turbines.
Anheuser-Busch has a wind farm on a ranch in Oklahoma and 100 percent of the electricity used in brewing Budweiser comes from renewable energy, according to the company’s vice president of sustainability, Angie Slaughter. This is a great example of one way that wind energy figures into an all-of-the-above approach to energy – one in which the U.S. ensures its energy security into the future by harnessing all available energy sources.
Kudos to the King of Beers for another wonderful ad. It’s hard to lose with those big, beautiful horses and a pup with her jowls flapping in the breeze, right? Yet, here’s a friendly reminder that where there’s wind energy, there’s also a growing partnership with natural gas and oil.
Natural gas is the essential partner to intermittent renewables like wind and solar in electricity generation. U.S. consumers depend on available electricity, at the flip of a switch, every day. At any given moment there must be as much power supplied to our nation's energy grid as the power being used. That's why all power systems require power generation that can be dispatched 24/7 and that is flexible enough to follow changes in the supply and demand.
Certainly, wind has an important role to play in an all-of-the-above energy strategy. Yet it needs to be supplemented by a resource that can “fill in the gaps” when demand increases, or when the wind doesn’t blow.
Natural gas is uniquely positioned among energy sources to provide necessary reliability attributes that ensure the health of the U.S. electric grid. It can reliably and efficiently provide power to meet steady predictable demand, and it can provide the flexible and fast-ramping power that is needed to support the grid and keep the lights on when consumers demand electricity and when intermittent resources like wind are not available. As the United States’ leading energy source for generating electricity, natural gas generation has improved the stability and balance of our nation’s power system.
Beyond supporting the electricity generated, wind turbines and other renewables are dependent upon natural gas and oil from their very beginning – with solar panels, turbine blades and even the lubricants that keep the blades turning all made using materials produced from natural gas and oil.
While natural gas may not have dalmatians or Clydesdales, it does provide the power that make modern life – and the Super Bowl – possible.
About The Author
Jessica Lutz is a writer for the American Petroleum Institute. Jessica joined API after 10+ years leading the in-house marketing and communications for non-profits and trade associations. A Michigan native, Jessica graduated from The University of Michigan with degrees in Communications and Political Science. She resides in Washington, D.C., and spends most of her free time trying to keep up with her energetic Giant Schnauzer, Jackson.