Natural gas: Reliable or clean energy?

Group 71

Figure 1: Comparison of world energy generation

The United Nations projects the world population to reach 9.7 billion people by the year 2050; the rate of urbanization of the past decade was unprecedented. Mankind’s insatiable demand for energy cannot be overlooked. From 1973 to 2016, the proportion of the world’s energy generated using natural gas increased from 12.1% to 23.2%. Natural gas has always been a huge part of energy generation throughout the years, and there are many diverging opinions of its use. This article will discuss the pros and cons of using natural gas as a means of producing electrical power from an ethical standpoint.

We Want Energy!

Many countries have recently announced a policy shift to increase the use of natural gas for power generation because it is the cleanest fossil fuel. Natural gas is considered environmentally friendly as it emits the lowest greenhouse gases, such as CO2 and NOx, per kWh of energy produced. In addition, combusting natural gas doesn’t produce ash or particulates that can cause health problems. Natural gas is one of the cheapest fossil fuel and highly efficient when used in a combined cycle gas turbine. The introduction of liquefied natural gas resulted in improved storage, enabling it to be economically transported to almost anywhere on the globe.

If natural gas is omitted from the world energy mix, no other power generation source could fill that energy void. Coal-fired power has been notorious for its high CO2 emissions, which contribute heavily to global warming and climate change. Some European countries plan to phase out coal-fired power completely, including France by 2023, the UK by 2025 and Finland by 2030. If we were to completely rely on nuclear power, we have to build approximately one nuclear power station per day for the next 30 years in order to accommodate the growing energy demand. Furthermore, the sole use of nuclear energy would result in significant amount of radioactive waste products that have detrimental effects to the environment. Despite renewables being carbon free, they are not efficient enough and too costly to supply the world energy demand. The increase in the usage of biomass for power generation would likely lead to higher food prices, which in turn may result in higher famine rates in the developing world. In order to ensure a reliable and uninterrupted electrical supply, natural gas has to be included in the world energy mix. Therefore, from a utilitarian perspective, the use of natural gas for power generation brings the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people, and thus it is ethical.

Natural gas fired power plants can be integrated with Carbon Capture and Storage  (CCS) to reduce CO2 emissions. However, this has not attained high levels of commercial attention due to the high energy penalty from the carbon capture unit. With the recent emergence of technologies such as Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) and Selective-EGR (S-EGR), natural gas fired power plant with CCS could be more feasible.

In 2017, a scientific breakthrough of converting CO2 captured from air into fuel was realized. This technology is powered by renewables and patented as AIR TO FUELS™. When sufficient advancement in renewable energy technologies is achieved, air pollution caused by natural gas power stations could be made reversible through this technology.

We Want Sustainability!

Even though natural gas is regarded as environmentally friendly, it is a fossil fuel that produces CO2 during combustion, which is the root cause of global warming. Rise in sea levels and global average temperature for the past decade were detrimental. The time it would take the planet to recover from the CO2 emissions already put into the atmosphere is estimated at a minimum of hundreds of years, and continuing to burn fossil fuels such as natural gas will only make this worse. Although there are ways to reduce the CO2 released into the atmosphere, such as carbon capture, it would be more effective to invest the money that such schemes would cost into renewables, such as wind or solar, to ensure clean energy for the future.

Transportation of natural gas through land and sea requires expensive pipelines and specialised tanks. Installation of pipes underground is responsible for deforestation due to the long distances that it is required to cover. This is an issue as it creates environmental problems, such as destroying the natural habitat of certain species, causing soil erosion and affecting the water cycle.

Natural gas is also highly combustible. The gas is odourless, colourless and tasteless, which makes it difficult to detect. This means that, should a leak occur, it can be very difficult to locate. A study, based on a methane pipeline explosion in Aliso Canyon, California, in 2010 found that the total amount of methane leaked in a four-month period was equivalent to the annual greenhouse gas emissions of 600,000 cars. This would have a major contribution towards global warming because methane is a stronger greenhouse gas than CO2.

As professional engineers, we should abide the stand still principle. This states that we must not pass on a poorer environment to the next generation than the one we received from the previous generation. The burning of natural gas is clearly wrong because the CO2 released into the atmosphere will have serious environmental consequences, affecting future generations. This is much greater than the impact that abandoning natural gas will have, making burning them an unethical action.

A Kantianist would argue that the maxim “natural gas should be burned to produce power” being made universal would clearly be unsustainable. The amount of natural gas left in the world at current consumption levels is estimated at 100 years’ worth. If natural gas became the main source of power, this estimate would drop considerably, resulting in an unjust distribution of resources between different generations. This, in addition to the greenhouse gases emitted, would clearly have an adverse effect on the environment, and thus, according to Kantianism, the burning of natural gas is unethical.

Initial Decision

We should continue to use natural gas for power generation.

42 thoughts on “Natural gas: Reliable or clean energy?

  1. I believe the cons use of natural gas in power generation has outweighs the pros.
    From the environmental and economical stand point, it is true that natural gas provides cheap and clean energy and does not harm the environment as much as coal or other energy generation mean. This is very important as the greenhouse effect is taking its toll on our Earth and generating energy by using natural gas can help slowing down this phenomenon.
    However, natural gas alike coal, fossil fuel and nuclear fuel is a finite energy source. True, burning natural gas is cheap and helps saves the environment for now, but it would be a real problem in the distant future when natural gas runs out. Based on the figure shown above, the usage of natural gas on energy generation has doubled in the past 50 years. This would be worrying if the situation is unchanged as stated above in an argument that the natural gas resource has nearly 100 years left!
    In conclusion, I think we should not rely too much on natural gas and move toward renewable energy as it is the cleanest and most natural energy source available on Earth!

    1. A good point. The main issue I see with it is that we need electrical power. As a society, we are dependant on it, for better or for worse. The ideal situation would be for people to use significantly less power and for us to be completely reliant on renewables, but as this is not the case (and it does not look like it’s going to be the case for a long time), we need power from somewhere that isn’t renewables. Gas and nuclear are the two sources of energy referred to as “bridge fuels”, in that they are the cleanest to use on a large scale until we have enough renewables – thus the conclusion drawn.

    2. Thank you for your comment.
      I agree with your statement that natural gas is a finite energy source, hence, it is not a sustainable energy source.
      Hopefully by the time we run out of natural gas, we will have an energy source that is capable of producing clean energy as well as meeting the increasing energy demand.

    3. Word. Since running out of natural gas would happen one day, it is necessary to seek a more reliable energy source and have it developed to a level which sufficient energy could be provided to meet the current demand as soon as possible but not keep investing into the development of technologies regarding the utilization of natural gas leaving the problem unsolved.

      Undeniably, we could not completely eliminate the usage of natural gas at this stage but it is important to let people be aware of the incoming energy crisis especially government and people with high social status who have the power and the responsibility to lead to the transition of the energy.

  2. Nice article but with one large omission.

    The global warming potential for methane is 86x higher than that of CO2 over a 20 year time period and bodies like the IPCC are saying we could breach irreversible greenhouse gas thresholds by the mid 30s.

    Methane leakage occurs all along the process from well to wheels. We’re currently very poor at estimating the amount but most papers range between 1.5 and around 6% being released into the atmosphere, above 4% and its better for the environment to use coal.

    1. Interesting, I wasn’t aware of this. I would be interested in a source for some of those numbers.

      The GWP of CO2 isn’t the only important thing to consider when comparing coal and methane. Coal also emits a lot of NOx, which at a glance has a GWP of 270 (Wikipedia), and is, along with other gases and particulates emitted by coal combustion, terrible for health. Mining coal also releases methane into the atmosphere (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coal_mining). In addition, when using fossil fuels alongside renewables, they need to be able to change demand quickly to cope with change in wind or solar production. Gas turbines can do this much more efficiently compared to coal, as coal takes hours, if not days, to fully ‘turn on’ from cold.

    2. According to the data from U.S. EPA, the emissions of methane from natural gas development, including fracking, have been declining in recent years, thanks to the technology improvement. From 1990 to 2017, methane emissions from petroleum and natural gas systems declined by 31.9 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent, or 14 percent. Over that same period, natural gas production increased by 51 percent, while oil production increased by 80 percent. This is a good trend as more energy is produced with less pollution it has imparted to the environment.

      On the other hand, coal is always considered as dirty energy as it produces energy on the basis of tremendous costs. There is also an omission to compare coal with natural gas based on the emissions of CO2 and methane as coal does not only produce CO2 but also other pollutants including mercury, SO2, NOx and etc. Worth to mention, mining activities of coal release methane as well.

  3. From the pie chart, we cannot even get rid of the 9600 TWh of electricity generated by coal. How are we going to omit the 5800 TWh of electricity generated by natural gas? Imagine for a moment the consequences that will arise if we shut down all natural gas CCGT right now.
    The top three CO2 emitting countries are China, United States and India, and they all share one thing in common: they all have a huge percentage of coal in their energy mix. From World Energy Outlook 2017, there are 2 million premature deaths due to air pollution in China. It is clear that the use of coal for power generation is the major culprit of global warming. Therefore, in order to combat global warming and climate change, we have to get rid of coal fired power.
    It is true that if all countries were to include a high percentage of natural gas in the energy mix, natural gas will be depleted within a century. However, we should not underestimate mankind’s rate of technological advancement. China’s fusion test reactor had achieved temperatures six times hotter than the sun in 2018 and SpaceX will be sending people to Mars in 2025. Natural gas fired power plant might be obsolete in the distant future, but I think that this will not be the case for the next few decades. We should not jump the gun and exclude natural gas together with coal at the present time. So for the time being, I believe that we should continue to use natural gas for power generation to stall the worsening effect of global warming until advancement in renewable technologies is achieved.

    1. Word. Natural gas is obviously playing an important role in power generation and thus, in my opinion, the elimination of the usage of natural gas is definitely not feasible at the moment. Step by step, gradually reduce the proportion of non-renewable energy source and replace it with renewable energy source is a more practical approach. Therefore, it is essential to shout out for our voices to be heard and make people with the power of discourse to be aware of the necessity to accelerate the development of renewable energy to make this approach happen.

  4. I believe that we are not ready to completely halt the usage of natural gas yet.
    As suggested in the title, natural gas is in fact reliable, seeing how it is considered as environmental friendly. One possible way to counter the leakage of natural gas is to implement AI systems along the few mile long pipes. With constant monitoring, repair works would be carried out when notified, significantly reducing leakage. As such, greenhouse gas such as methane would be significantly reduced, resulting in a less detrimental effect towards global warming.
    To conclude , I believe that a renewable energy source that outweighs natural gas in every aspect should be put into use. However, such a source has not been discovered hence leading to the usage of natural gas as the benefits of it’s usage outweighs other energy sources at the moment.

    1. Thank you for your comment.
      I agree with your statement that we are not ready to completely halt the usage of natural gas for power generation yet.
      Using AI as a means of condition monitoring for pipe leakage seems to be achievable and not far-fetched.
      Furthermore, I also agree if given that renewable energy source can meet the growing energy demand, then renewable energy should be the principal choice of energy source for power generation.

    2. That is a good idea. I believe the thought to implement AI for monitoring the leakage will definitely help to reduce the emissions of methane. With the implementation of the monitoring system, we could reduce the harm to our earth to the minimum while we are working on the development of renewable energy so a better world could be left for our future generations.

  5. The use of energy especially electricity in the modern world which we are currently living in is very essential as most people on Earth are too dependent on it. The Industrial Revolution kicked start the high carbon emission that kills the planet, but also provide the energy and electricity required to accommodate humans. To produce large amount of clean sustainable energy as an alternative solution to fossil fuels is very achievable, but would probably take a long time to achieve this solution. In conclusion, the energy mostly generated from fossil fuel that we use is what is killing planet Earth. Would you sacrifice to live without technologies and fossil fuel energies knowing you would save Earth or consume the energies and integrate technologies anyways and live comfortably.

    1. Thank you for your comment.
      I agree with your statement that almost everyone living in the 21st century is reliant on electricity, i.e. using air conditioning during summer and using heaters during winter.
      Furthermore, I agree with your statement that replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy will require a long time.
      Moreover, I agree with your statement that using fossil fuel is ‘killing’ planet earth. However, I think that global warming is not as severe as a threat like nuclear holocaust. I believe that we are using natural gas for power generation in order to buy time for the advancement of renewables.

    2. I like the question you raised, will people be happy to sacrifice the comfortable life we are living right now to trade for healthy earth? I personally think that it is impossible for us to revert to how we live in primitive times after we have used to the life we are living at the moment but keep damaging the planet we are living on is not desired as well. To sacrifice our comfort or our only earth. choosing any of them would bring huge damage. In conclusion, in order to save our earth while maintaining the life we want, the development of renewable energy could brook no further delay regardless of any cost it will take.

  6. I don’t think that it is possible to omit the usage of natural gas completely as an energy source. However, there are a few good reasons to gradually switch focus from natural gas to other energy sources. With increasing population and energy demand we should not rely heavily on a finite energy source. Besides, natural gas is only considered more environmental friendly if compared to other fossil fuels. Carbon emissions were still far greater compared to a lot of low carbon energy source such as nuclear, biomass, hydro, wind.

    It would not be easy to implement CCS especially for existing plants and factories. From economical and sustainability stand point, it may be more beneficial to focus on developing and implementing renewable clean energy source, rather than mitigating the emission release. Also, I have to disagree with your statement where usage of biomass would increase food price, as that only applies to first generation biofuels.

    1. Thank you for your comment.
      I agree with your statement that it is impossible to omit the usage of natural gas completely as an energy source, as 23% of the world electricity generation comes from natural gas.
      Moreover, I agree with your statement that natural gas is regarded as more environmentally friendly only when compared among the fossil fuels. Natural gas is a finite source, and hence it is not sustainable.
      Furthermore, I agree that the increase in food prices caused by the increase in the usage of biomass only applies to first generation biofuels. However, I think that it is very difficult to harvest a large quantity of second and third generation biofuels to meet electricity demand.

    2. Word. With increasing energy demand along with population, relying on a finite energy source is definitely not a good idea, not to mention the detrimental effects brought by the natural gas. I agree with the point that you have raised about the emphasis we should focus on right now as well. Mitigation would not solve the problem. If we want to move forward towards the ideal situation so we don’t build our happiness on the basis of damaging the world anymore, it is time to start to put in more effort and work on discovering and developing the new renewable energy source.

  7. Hi Great article! Even though the method of production of energy from natural gas releases the lowest greenhouse gases among the other methods, we still need to take into consideration that it will still emit harmful gases. If the emission of greenhouse gases from natural gas method is not significantly lower than other methods there is no point to go through the hassles of building expensive pipelines and specialised tanks, and making sure the gases will not leak that causes more destruction. At the end of the day it might just cause more harm than actually saving the environment. Moreover, natural gas is limited just like oil, and it will run out in the future. Hopefully someone will come out with a better method than natural gas when it runs out in the future.

    1. Thank you for your comment.
      I agree with your statement that we should acknowledge the fact that natural gas is a fossil fuel, hence, it will still emit CO2 into the atmosphere.
      Given that natural gas emits 50% less CO2 than coal and also methane leakage is detrimental to the environment, can you explain more why do you think that ensuring methane leakage will not be beneficial to the environment?
      Moreover, I also agree with your statement that natural gas is not a sustainable approach for power generation.

    2. It is undeniable that natural gas still releases harmful gases but knowing that it produces the least greenhouse gases compared to other alternative fossil fuels, it is the best solution to the energy crisis that we could come out with at the moment after a trade-off had been made between energy demand and environment.

      If the natural gas does not give the result we desire which is to minimize the detrimental effect to the environment, your statement might be true and the hassles had been made are indeed meaningless. However, in fact, with good control of the methane leakage, changing from coal to natural gas has led to a huge reduction in the emission of harmful gases to the environment.

  8. In my point of view, although natural gas seem like the best option among fossil fuels, but it still will deplete at the future. Nowadays, renewable energy can be better choice without consider the effect to the environment. Solar photovoltaic and wind power industry has become cost-competitive option in global market due to significant cost reduction. However it still take time to slowly reduce our rely on fossil fuels.

    Beside that, natural gas might become safety hazard due to its natural properties. Accidental leakage or improper storage may cause poisonous and explosion.

    Thanks for produce such informative paragraph

    1. Thank you for your comment.
      I agree with your statement that natural gas is a finite source, hence, it will still be used up in the distant future.
      Moreover, I agree that the only way to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels is by using more renewable technologies. However, this is a gradual process and takes a long time for it to be realized. As it can be seen from the pie chart that non-hydro renewables is only 8% of the entire energy mix.
      Furthermore, I acknowledge that accidental leakage of methane is detrimental to the environment

    2. I totally agree with your views. A transition definitely needs time and it is never an easy process. However, considering the benefits could be brought, a transition is necessary and it is a good trend to see more renewable energy sources come to the international stage to compete with the non-renewable energy we have been using til now as it has indicated that awareness about the energy crisis has been planted in some of us and will spread to everyone one day.

  9. Natural gas is often praised as a clean energy alternative. It burns more cleanly than other fossil fuels, emitting lower levels of harmful emissions such as carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxides. It produces less greenhouse gases than other fossil fuels do. It doesn’t produce ash or particulates that cause health problems. It’s not as clean as renewable energy sources such as wind or solar, but because it’s abundant, relatively inexpensive and easy to use, many consider it a stop-gap measure as society makes the transition to other energy sources.

    Some critics say, however, that natural gas isn’t as clean as it seems. Some scientists say that even though natural gas burns more cleanly than other fossil fuels, a significant amount of methane escapes into the atmosphere from natural gas wells and pipelines. Methane is one of the major greenhouse gases that trap heat in the earth’s atmosphere. Newer methods of mining natural gas from harder rocks and deeper deposits are controversial, especially hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. In fracking, high pressure is used to force fluids underground to break shale rocks and get deep deposits of natural gas. Critics say the process emits methane and pollutes water supplies.

    Most of us can agree that Nat. Gas is eco-friendly but we must accept the fact that it is a flawed source of energy, present and future.

    1. Thank you for your comment.
      I agree with your statement that natural gas can be used as a stop-gap measure in order to buy time for renewables to be fully exploited.
      I agree that the biggest flaw of natural gas is that methane leakage is very detrimental to the environment.

    2. You are right. We could not deny that natural gas is a flawed energy source. Therefore, it is essential to always remember and keep reminding ourselves that natural gas could only be used as a stop-gap measure but not a long term solution.

  10. A long term view is needed where fossil fuels are eventually replaced by a range of renewables (not just wind turbines) and nuclear. This requires a succession of governments who are prepared to invest long term, with a 20 to 50 year horizon, rather than focusing on short term gains. In the short term, there is no real, viable alternative to burning natural gas as electricity demand keep growing and will do so more as we switch to electric cars!

    1. Thank you for your comment.
      I agree with your statement that the use of fossil fuels for power generation in the short term is inevitable and a long term view is required to gradually replace our reliance on fossil fuels by using a range of renewables.
      It is interesting that as society is shifting from petroleum cars to electric cars, the electricity demand will in turn increase significantly. This will inevitably increase the use of fossil fuels to meet energy demand in the short term as fossil fuels are still the largest power generation source.

    2. Word. We definitely require a long term plan and government assuredly play an important role to promote the project. Otherwise, along with the increasing energy demand, it will become more and more difficult to withdraw the society from the addiction to natural gas, leading to imminent energy crisis due to lack of development on renewable energy sources.

  11. Interesting article, thank you! I agree that the source of our electricity is important, but how far do you think we can get in terms of reducing electricity usage itself? Is it possible that, by encouraging consumers to consider this more, and manufacturers to keep working on energy efficiency in their products, we can make a real difference?

    1. Thank you for your comment.
      I think that if manufacturers improve their efficiency in manufacturing their products, then that will make a significant contribution to reduce the carbon footprint that fully utilize the electricity consumption.
      I think it is really difficult for consumers to consider the reduction in electricity usage. As we are used to living in comfortable houses, most of us would set the temperature set point of the heater beyond 23 degrees instead of the ideal 21 degrees just to get more comfortable by paying more $$ in winter. In hot climates, there are people who set their air-conditioning temperature set point to 16 degrees.
      Here is an interesting read, which I got from the MEC 437 Buildings Physics module, which discusses the influences on building energy use. The URL is: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/233501311_Buildings_don't_use_energy_People_do

    2. You have raised a good point. It definitely will help to reduce the energy consumption if the consumer and manufacturer could cooperate and set the same goal which is to save our world from global warming by reducing the electricity usage.

      I believe that a good habit could help to save a lot of electricity in our daily lives. Not only saving energy during the “earth hour”, but the concept should also be applied every day.

  12. Great article,

    I agree that we cannot only rely on renewable energy, since the technologies itself is not that advance yet. Here is why I think that natural gas is a better alternative than other source of fossil fuels:

    Natural gas is the cleanest of all the fossil fuels. Composed primarily of methane, the main products of the combustion of natural gas are carbon dioxide and water vapor, the same compounds we exhale when we breathe. Coal and oil are composed of much more complex molecules, with a higher carbon ratio and higher nitrogen and sulfur contents. This means that when combusted, coal and oil release higher levels of harmful emissions, including a higher ratio of carbon emissions, nitrogen oxides (NOx), and sulfur dioxide (SO2). Coal and fuel oil also release ash particles into the environment, substances that do not burn but instead are carried into the atmosphere and contribute to pollution. The combustion of natural gas, on the other hand, releases very small amounts of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, virtually no ash or particulate matter, and lower levels of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and other reactive hydrocarbons.

    Hope this is a good point.

    1. Thank you for your comment Buff Adam.
      I acknowledge to your statement that natural gas produces lower harmful gases than coal does. This is important because coal has the highest percentage in the world energy mix, at 38.4%.
      Natural gas could potentially be the prime fuel for power generation in the future, however, renewables are on the rise. Using renewables for power generation is a sustainable approach to combat global warming because renewables are clean energy. There are countries that rely very little on fossil fuels to meet energy demand, such as Costa Rica, Denmark, Scotland and Sweden.

  13. Very nice and informative article.

    We cannot neglect the fact that natural gas itself is a potent greenhouse gas. Methane gas has an ability to trap heat almost 21 times more effectively than carbon dioxide.

    However, there is a study done by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Gas Research Institute, in 1997 sought to discover whether the reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from increased natural gas use would be offset by a possible increased level of methane emissions. The study concluded that the reduction in emissions from increased natural gas use strongly outweighs the detrimental effects of increased methane emissions. Thus the increased use of natural gas in the place of other, dirtier fossil fuels can serve to lessen the emission of greenhouse gases.

    1. Thank you for your comment DIO Sama,
      The report obtained from Environmental Protection Agency and the Gas Research Institute should be a credible source, hence, natural gas could be the best among the fossil fuels for power generation. However, natural gas is a finite source, which will run out within the next century if energy demand increases significantly. Therefore, I think we should gradually reduce our reliance on it.

  14. Thank you for sharing this interesting and informative article with me.

    We really have to be quite careful about the language we use to frame things. If we call things clean, we start to feel positive about it. Natural gas is not a positive thing, it’s just less negative. The carbon dioxide emission of natural gas is not as high as some other fossil fuels, but given where we need to be, to compare it with the worst that’s out there is very dangerous.

    This is just my thought while reading through the article.

    1. Thank you for your comment ItsBananaFish,
      I acknowledge that we cannot say that natural gas is the best choice of energy source for power generation just because it is better than any other fossil fuel.
      However, given that coal has the highest weightage in the world energy mix, comparing natural gas against coal, enable us to determine whether natural gas is worthy of an energy source or not , so that the environment is not at stake.

  15. I find it difficult to see how continued use of fossil fuels stands up to any kind of Kantian scrutiny (although would be happy to be corrected!). It isn’t benefitting current humanity, it isn’t benefitting future generations, and energy (and the money that flows from it) isn’t distributed equitably. Fossil fuels can only be ethically justified through a utilitarian lens, because billions of people like their current lifestyle, and your question about natural gas is a consequentialist trade-off (asking which has the lesser consequence?). To imagine there is a technological fix on the horizon or that climate change is “not as much of a risk as its made out to be” is just blurring the fact that because we are in the majority (of intensive energy-users), we’re OK with that thanks.
    Would I like natural gas or coal? If I may say, I don’t like the question 🙂

  16. Thank you for your comment BJG.
    I agree to your statement that Utilitarianism is in favour of the use of fossil fuel but Kantianism is against the use of fossil fuel.
    Moreover, I agree to your statement that to imagine that there is a technological fix on the horizon is wishful thinking and to overlook climate change contradicts the virtues of a professional engineer.
    Furthermore, I acknowledge your distaste on the use of fossil fuels for power generation. Do you prefer biomass, nuclear or renewables?

  17. Great article. Worth the time and effort to read.

    I believe there is one more benefit about natural gas that is not spoken in this article.

    Smog and poor air quality is a pressing environmental problem, particularly for large metropolitan cities. The use of natural gas does not contribute significantly to smog formation, as it emits low levels of nitrogen oxides, and virtually no particulate matter. For this reason, it can be used to help combat smog formation in those areas where ground level air quality is poor. The main sources of nitrogen oxides are electric utilities, motor vehicles, and industrial plants. Increased natural gas use in the electric generation sector, a shift to cleaner natural gas vehicles, or increased industrial natural gas use, could all serve to combat smog production, especially in urban centers where it is needed the most. Particularly in the summertime, when natural gas demand is lowest and smog problems are the greatest, industrial plants and electric generators could use natural gas to fuel their operations instead of other, more polluting fossil fuels. This would effectively reduce the emissions of smog causing chemicals, and result in clearer, healthier air around urban centers.

    I am from China, and we have really smoggy and poor air quality. That’s why I’m aware of this benefit of natural gas.

    Strength is never a weakness, weakness is never a strength.

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