Is it Time to Embrace Natural Gas as a Tool to Reduce Emissions & Facilitate Renewables?
By Douglas C. Sandridge, EnergyPolicyUs.org
March 11, 2015
Part 5 of 5 – Conclusion
Energy is important to modern society and energy consumption is a reliable indicator of wealth and prosperity. Nations which use small amounts of energy are almost uniformly poor. Inversely, countries which consume copious amounts of energy are substantially wealthier. We should continue to strive for greater energy efficiency and find ways to “do more with less.” We should admire those who dare to dream of a time when we no longer need fossil fuels. Nevertheless, we must not allow utopianism to delude us of the reality that we find ourselves today. The sheer magnitude of our reliance on fossil fuels does not afford us a practical opportunity to shed the burden of fossil fuels in the near-term. Often, all forms of so-called “fossil fuels” are lumped together and we fail to recognize that fossil fuels are not all created equal. We should not overlook the benefits of natural gas just because it is a “fossil fuel.”
Natural gas proffers several benefits. First, natural gas should be used as a “bridge fuel” to transition from current coal generated electricity to greater use of renewable electricity in the future. In conventional electricity generation, replacing coal with natural gas, reduces CO2 emissions 40-50 percent and reduces SO2, NOX, particulates and Mercury emissions 80-100 percent. Second, natural gas is an excellent resource for generating electricity as a “back-up” for electricity generated by wind and other renewables. Wind energy will continue to be one of the most effective vehicles by which to generate cleaner electricity. However, reliability of electricity supply is extremely important to utility companies, Public Utility Commissions and most importantly, consumers. Due to the necessity for electricity to be 99.9% reliable, wind alone cannot be used effectively to generate electricity without a practical back-up source of generating electricity. Natural gas is the ideal yokefellow to back-up wind and other renewables.
Notwithstanding the overwhelming technical and financial obstacles, a majority of Americans favor a vigorous transition towards a cleaner national energy portfolio and public opinion will continue to drive an increasing use of renewable energy. While the “environmentalists” continue to inspire us to a cleaner future, we should all recognize and rejoice that the United States has been endowed with an abundant and affordable source of clean-burning natural gas. Natural gas will be absolutely critical in facilitating our transition to an era of cleaner energy and that is why we should embrace natural gas as a tool to reduce emissions and advance the expanded use of renewable energy.
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