In the United States, natural gas production has expanded as business and tech leaders try to provide a way forward for an energy industry beset by the threat of climate change.
While some individuals and market forces seem set on bringing back coal as an energy source, the rest of the developed world is focused on the inevitable bridge toward renewable energy sources.
Now the Saudis and Qatar and the United Arab Emirates are also looking at diversifying into natural gas as a way to prop up energy demand while the world slowly brings renewable energy projects online.
Robin Mills reports today in The National on some of this sea change.
“Gas is in fashion in the Middle East,” Mills writes. “The region’s major national oil companies have announced ambitious plans to find, produce, transmute and export more.”
In noting that Saudi Aramco has announced its intent to invest $150 billion in natural gas, while Qatar is boosting production and Iraq is using gas to power plant production, Mills notes that gas is 25% less carbon polluting than oil.
“Relatively cheap and abundant, a newly globalized business means it can quite readily be transported worldwide,” Mills writes. “It can generate electricity; fuel cars, lorries and ships either directly or by charging batteries; heat homes and drive industries; and be converted to petrochemicals.”
Mills also outlines three options for natural gas in the future: as a “dead end,” a “bridge fuel,” or a “destination fuel.”
In the “dead end” view, which many environmentalists would espouse, gas will be replaced by renewable energy from now onwards,” Mills writes, Or, gas could be a “bridge fuel”, replacing coal and oil in the medium-term to reduce emissions but then being overtaken by renewable energy and electrified transport from the 2040s onwards….there is a third possibility. The gas industry should articulate a positive vision and not be defensive about its product. Skilful communication has to be underpinned by huge climate-friendly research and investment.”
What’s not in the playbook is any method that does not become carbon-neutral.
Mills points out that natural gas as a “destination fuel” would be accompanied by carbon capture technology to zero out total greenhouse gas emissions. Scientists and real-thinking politicians are intent on solving climate change before it’s too late for the planet.
These energy movements are symptoms of a realization that renewable are coming – it’s just a matter of when, and how.