Would Natural Gas Last To Be the Main Source of Energy?

Natural gas is a natural source of energy that belongs to fossil fuels. Natural gases can be found deep beneath the surface of the earth. This fossil fuel consists of several components, but its main component is methane. When other components are removed and only methane is left, such gas is called dry. However, when other components are left along with methane, such gas will be referred to as wet. Both dry and wet gases are important since they have different purposes and are aimed at different consumers. Thus, wet gas can be used to produce other forms of gases, such as propane or butane, while dry gas is ready to be used by the general population to heat their houses and produce energy.

Natural gas was created millions of years ago, when the remains of marine plants and animals were buried under sand and slit, and heat and pressure turned these materials into natural gas and oil. Nowadays, people use different drilling technologies to extract natural gas from the earth’s bowels and produce ready-for-consumption gas. Although humanity has been using natural gas for only several hundred years, its growing industrial consumption has shortened natural resources significantly. Therefore, the question arises: would natural gas last to be the main source of energy in the nearest future? The answer is as follows: even though natural gas would last to be the main energy source for the next decades, alternative energy sources will substitute natural gas eventually because they are renewable, cleaner, and less harmful for the climate and the environment.

Despite the existence of other alternative sources of energy, natural gas is still the primary fossil fuel in the world. According to Shelor (2021), “natural gas demand is set to grow 50% to reach 5,920 bcm [billion cubic meters] in 2050. […]. Asia Pacific will become the largest gas consumer by 2050, doubling its consumption to 1,660 bcm” (para. 3). Such an increase in natural gas consumption is related to its lower prices and abundance compared to other alternative energy sources. Moreover, natural gas production is a constant process, and it does not depend on the weather conditions or other factors that influence renewable energy production. Thus, natural gas has all chances to remain the primary energy source in the nearest future or to complement renewable resources when needed. However, humanity should decrease natural gas consumption; otherwise, the planet will suffer from a lack of resources in less than a hundred years. According to the U.S. Energy Administration Information (2021), if the United States continues to produce about 34 Tcf. (trillion cubic feet) of dry natural gas annually, it will have enough dry gas “to last about 84 years” (para. 1). Even though some new geological information about natural gas wells can be found by that time, these resources will still be limited, and the world will be forced to substitute natural gas with alternative resources. For example, solar photovoltaic (PV) will supply more energy than natural gas by 2040 (see Fig. 1).

Global Power Capacity.
Fig. 1. Global Power Capacity.

From the figure above, one can see that natural gas will not be the primary source of energy in the future, and different factors will influence its global demand. The development of alternative energy resources, such as solar, wind, and hydro energy, and depletion of natural resources, will decrease natural gas consumption and production in the nearest future.

Thus, people should reduce the consumption of natural gas and substitute it with alternative energy sources because fossil fuels negatively impact the global climate. Global warming is a huge problem of the modern world because it leads to various negative consequences. One of the reasons for climate change is the increased emissions of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels. To address these changes, people created new policies to promote sustainable energy and alternative resources. These sustainable policies require industries to minimize or avoid greenhouse gas emissions, thus affecting natural gas production. Ritchie (2017) writes, “to keep average global temperature increase below two degrees Celsius (as has been agreed in the UN Paris Agreement),” people should calculate carbon dioxide emissions and decrease global carbon budget accordingly (para. 10). Consequently, humanity will have to relinquish nearly 80 percent of the existing reserves to preserve the average global temperature rise below two degrees.

At the same time, new technologies of natural gas extraction allow people to create carbon-neutral energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere (Borunda, 2020). The places of gas extraction are also important. For example, natural gas extracted from the Greenland ice sheets contains only tiny traces of methane, which means that its harmful effect on the atmosphere is minimal (Borunda, 2020). In comparison, natural gas extracted from wetlands is more polluted, and its emissions to the atmosphere are bigger than the emissions from wild natural gas. If geologists try to extract natural gas only from wild geological sources and reduce methane leakage, the negative impact of natural gas on climate change will be minimized. As a result, people will be able to use natural gas more wisely and effectively, and it will remain the primary source of energy in the nearest several decades. Nevertheless, even the tiniest traces of methane in natural gas will cause greenhouse gas emissions, which means that natural gas is not the best energy source for the future. Suppose the planet wants to stop or, at least, delay global warming. In that case, it should find alternative energy sources, even though the amount of natural gas is sufficient to create energy for the next several generations.

Having analyzed global power capacity, renewable sources of energy, and climate change issues, one can conclude that natural gas would last to be the main source of energy for several decades only. The amount of fossil fuels is limited, and the natural resources will deplete eventually. The current estimations demonstrate that the United States of America will produce enough dry gas for about eighty-ninety years. Moreover, renewable energy is getting more affordable, and it will substitute natural gas, becoming the main energy source in the future. Although natural gas is cleaner than other fossil fuels, it still produces some greenhouse gas emissions, which will eventually lead to global warming. All these factors have a great impact on natural gas consumption and production. In conclusion, natural gas is an affordable and effective energy source today, and it will last to be the primary energy source in the nearest future. However, its amount is limited, and people should minimize its consumption because of its negative effect on global climate and the environment. Instead, humanity should utilize renewable energy sources and try to extract natural gas only from wild geological locations to decrease pollution and save the environment.

References

Borunda, A. (2020). Natural gas is a much ‘dirtier’ energy source than we thought. National Geographic. Web.

Ritchie, H. (2017). How long before we run out of fossil fuels? Our world in data. Web.

Shelor, J. (2021). Natural gas to become world’s primary fossil fuel by 2050, says gas exporting countries forum. Natural gas intelligence. Web.

U.S. Energy Administration Information. (2021). How much natural gas does the United States have, and how long will it last? Web.

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