With the ever-increasing energy demand in the world today, there is a pressing need for a sustainable alternative energy source that can be sourced easily and can integrate into the world’s energy supply grid with ease. Natural gas is one such alternative that fits the bill – and it is already making a huge impact on the energy market. In this article, we will look at the future of natural gas and how it can impact the supply of sustainable energy in the world.
In the long term, it is not going to be very easy to replace coal as the fuel of choice and choose natural gas, because even though natural gas is a cleaner fuel, it still generates greenhouse gases when burnt, and so an alternative greener solution will still need to be found – but if you are looking at the short term future, then natural gas offers a better alternative to the pollution problems that we are facing today.
Why is natural gas considered as a panacea for the present energy crises?
Gas is a less costly, easy to use and transport fuel that can complement renewable sources of energy like solar power, hydro-electric power, and wind power, which by their very nature are not constant sources of energy, and so natural gas provides stability in energy supply. Also, when natural gas is burnt, it emits less than fifty percent of the pollutants that are emitted by burning coal, which makes it a more environmentally friendly fuel.
There is currently no shortage of natural gas and it is predicted to stay that way for the next 100 years, in part due to the new gas field development over the last few years. Huge reserves of natural gas exist right now in the USA, Russia and in a few other countries. The technology for extracting natural gas safely and in an environmentally friendly way has developed a lot from the initial days with technologies like hydraulic fracturing (a.k.a Fracking) and horizontal drilling being used.
Natural gas is composed of methane, which is a very potent greenhouse gas that accelerates global warming, and so it must be handled with care right from the extraction stage itself – there are several processes that natural gas needs to go through, in order to get to a form that can be distributed to the end-users. However, we must remember that every energy generating system in the world today generates some amount of ecological damage during its lifetime – be it the toxic materials used in the construction of solar panels or the resulting environmental damage from the construction and usage of hydro-electric dams. Being a “cleaner fuel”, natural gas is the best fuel that exists today until someone discovers a better alternative for it. With such an outlook, natural gas looks like it will be the future of sustainable and reliable energy production at least for the next few decades.