Generating electricity by burning natural gas in a combustion turbine offers several advantages over other fossil fuels.
First and foremost, natural gas burns much cleaner than coal or oil.
Second, electricity generated by gas produces no sulfur emissions and only a fraction of the NOx emissions that occur when burning coal.
Third, natural gas, although more expensive, burns more efficiently than coal. Nearly 63% of the natural gas used in combustion results in a useful product, namely electricity and recovered heat. Only 33% of coal results in energy while one third is lost to thermal waste up the smoke stack and one third is given off as waste heat out the cooling tower.
Fourth, combustion turbines offer quick startup - going from cold standby to full load in less than one hour. Coal generation takes nearly 10 hours to be brought "on line" and full load is not achieved for many hours after that.
Finally, steam turbines require lengthy outages (6-8 weeks) to be overhauled. A combustion turbine can be replaced by a rental turbine in a matter of days while it is sent out for maintenance, greatly reducing the downtime.