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Monday, October 10, 2016

Is Natural Gas Much More Than Just a Bridge Fuel?

From Oil & Gas 360:
It’s time to overstate the obvious: the wide range of uses for natural gas makes it a critical resource for the United States and world economies. 
Natural gas is used in an amazing number of ways. Although it is widely seen as a cooking and heating fuel in most U.S. homes, natural gas has many other energy related and raw material uses. It can be used as a vehicle fuel, it can power pipelines and infrastructure for the purpose of transporting natural gas or oil, and is widely prevalent in industrial use as a raw material. Natural gas is an ingredient used to make fertilizer, antifreeze, plastics, pharmaceuticals and fabrics. It is also used to manufacture a wide range of chemicals such as ammonia, methanol, butane, ethane, propane and acetic acid.

Despite the ubiquity of natural gas through many aspects of our life, natural gas has been likened to a “bridge fuel” for years, a source of electrical generation that can tide us over until renewables are ready to carry the full load. When it is burned natural gas emits about half of the CO2 as coal, making it a preferred alternative to coal, which has long dominated U.S. power grids. 
Environmentalists have criticized natural gas because although it is cleaner than coal, it still is a fossil fuel that emits greenhouse gases. Methane is released during production and transmission, a particularly potent greenhouse gas. Moreover, the idea of a “bridge fuel” is a not as neat as is often claimed, environmentalists argue, because investing billions of dollars into long-lived assets – pipelines, power plants, processing facilities – will leave us locked into that infrastructure for decades.
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