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Could Wind and Solar Lose to Natural Gas as an Eco-Friendly Resource?

Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By jaroslava V



Not everyone sees natural gas as an eco-friendly resource. Promoters of the source are quick to point out that it is decreasing the coal market and helping to reduce heat-trapping emissions. Naysayers are quick to rebut that these time and resources should instead be put towards other sources like wind and solar power.

The good news is, CO2 emissions are the lowest they have been since the early part of the 1990s. Change is moving in a positive direction. However, some experts believe that there should be a much bigger push by policymakers to look for cleaner energy sources and push natural gas aside.

Natural Gas is in High Demand

Total SA Chief Executive Patrick Pouyanne had this to say at the World Gas Conference in Washington, “This idea of natural gas as a transition fuel to renewables is strange.”  He indicated that use of natural gas is a solution to solving climate change. Other executives from companies like Qatar Petroleum, BP Plc, ConocoPhillips, and Equinor Asa agreed with the notion.

Information from the U.S. Energy Information Administration shows that reserves of natural gas have increased five percent. This is nearly 17 trillion cubic feet more since the previous survey, bringing the total up to 341 trillion cubic feet. Consumption of natural gas is also on the rise. According to government projections, use has shot up about 30-percent in the last year. This growth is largely due to demand from Asia. In the coming years, natural gas could account for as much as 50-percent of the market. Economists project that coal will trickle to only 30-percent.

Manufacturing industries are becoming more dependent on natural gas for producing and refining metals and chemicals. Industrial companies use the dry elements of natural gas as well as the wet gas byproduct. The liquids consist of methane, propane, and butane. These act as a foundation for many consumer goods distributed all around the world.

The steel, chemical, and fertilizer industry find the use of natural gas to be particularly beneficial. This is largely because they were paying about $14 per each million of Btus in 2005, and that price has dropped to $3 per each million. This major drop in overhead when using the gas could lead to a hundred of billions of dollars in expansion and output by 2025.

Not Everyone Sees Natural Gas as an Eco-Friendly Resource

Despite the demand, some experts believe that wind and solar energy will account for 50-percent of the world’s power supply by 2050 — which directly contradicts the projections for natural gas. Scientists expect that the renewable resource will expand greatly as storage capacity grows. This side of the argument believes that natural gas is not on the rise, but that’s it’s actually already peaked. They believe that natural gas will merely supplement for wind and solar energy storage and account for only 15% of the market. A report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance also puts the decrease of CO2 emissions by 38-percent during the same time.

Consumers in general do not see natural gas as an eco-friendly resource. The expectation is that consumers will revolt against natural gas unless natural gas developers improve their methane emissions controls. Science magazine says that the gas and oil industries in this country emit 13 million metric tons of methane each year. Companies must examine the social cost of carbon and factor-in the level of greenhouse gases they emit. This would have to incorporate the process of refinement as well as transportation. The trend of moving away from non-renewable resources has to continue, regardless of the means used.

SPI Borescopes, the makers of the best borescopes for inspection for both the refinement machinery and manufacturing machinery of all kinds, works closely with power industries and sees this fight working towards a cleaner environment, no matter what, so everyone wins.

Natural gas is creating jobs and wealth while reducing heat trapping emissions globally. However, critics think it could be better, and some don’t see natural gas as an eco-friendly resource at all. Either way, it’s a step in the right direction.

Becca Stickler is a freelance writer with a focus on sustainability and eco-friendly living.


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