Conversion from Coal to Natural Gas at Wright Patterson Air Force Base: An Analysis and Case Study
Date of Award
Master of Science
Department of Systems Engineering and Management
Christopher M. Chini, PhD
Over the last 20 years, natural gas has replaced coal as the preferred fossil fuel for heat and power generation across the United States, due to its increased prevalence, lower cost, and reduced environmental impacts. While most conversion decisions are driven by cost savings, proponents of energy transitions often cite emissions reductions as a tangential benefit. Over the same time, climate change and its impact on the environment and society have come to the forefront of scientific inquiry. One example of the transition from coal to natural gas can be found in Dayton, Ohio. Wright Patterson Air Force Base (WPAFB) invested over $25M from 2014 to 2016, to retrofit two coal-fired steam heat-generating plants to natural gas heating plants. A brief review of literature shows that natural gas has a number of environmental benefits as opposed to coal to include, reduced air emissions and water withdrawal, as well as the elimination of the hazardous solid wastes produced by coal combustion. Economic analyses used to inform these long-term infrastructure decisions rarely consider the uncertainty of climate change. In this study, a Monte Carlo simulation is performed to evaluate the sensitivity of cost savings from the switch while accounting future uncertainty of climatic changes in the region. Primary fuel consumption data for WPAFB was paired with historical data with climate forecasts to calibrate a model, connecting specific weather indicators to installation fuel demand. The sensitivity of each fueling a range of expected outcomes for climate change across the region. Using this predictive model for fuel use, observations and comparisons are made for the range of possible outcomes of long term operating cost, environmental impacts, and how warming climate affects natural gas conversion return-on investment.
DTIC Accession Number
Ferry, Tyler A., "Conversion from Coal to Natural Gas at Wright Patterson Air Force Base: An Analysis and Case Study" (2021). Theses and Dissertations. 5001.