Environmental-friendliness of Natural Gas - A Brief Look

September 20, 2019

Environmental Friendliness of Natural Gas

Canadians in the 21st century have a vested interest in energy issues. We know extreme cold and -- surprisingly to some -- brutal heat. From controlling the climate of home and office to ensuring the timely transport of goods and people, we seek energy sources that are efficient, affordable and ecological. This likely explains why, as a country, we use over 2,500 petajoules annually for purposes as diverse as residential, industrial, transportation and agriculture. Primarily serving to generate electricity, natural gas is also known for its low impact on the natural environment. Edmonton residents benefit from its abundance in Alberta.

What Is Natural Gas?
Made up principally of methane and hydrocarbons, natural gas is found in deposits beneath the earth's surface. It is employed for space and water heating in homes and residences. Other applications include the powering of manufacturing processes and as an ingredient in products ranging from antifreeze to plastics to pharmaceuticals. In addition, natural gas is a heat source in the production of cement, steel and glass, to name a few materials. In fact, most of the supply used in Canada relates to industry. This makes sense, since our country is the fourth largest producer in the world.

Is Natural Gas a Fossil Fuel?
As a collection of hydrocarbons that is formed beneath the earth over long periods of time from the mass of decomposing flora and fauna, natural gas does indeed count as a fossil fuel. Sometimes, they are referred to as mineral fuels. Along with coal and petroleum -- the two best-known fossil fuels -- natural gas is a very efficient source of energy and, when following and examining electricity rates Edmonton, a fairly inexpensive one. New methods of accessing it have kept its prices at fairly reasonable levels, as well.

As a Fossil Fuel, Does Natural Gas Harm the Environment?
Granted, natural gas does emit carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Still, a side-by-side comparison with oil and coal demonstrate that its atmospheric burden is significantly lower. For example, natural gas emanates nearly a third less CO2 than petroleum and nearly half that of coal. In terms of other pollutants, it nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide and particulates than other mineral fuels. Although there is more methane in natural gas, the United States Environmental Protection Agency concluded in 1997 that the benefits of reduced CO2 and other gases more than offset the detriment of higher methane emissions.

Efficiency Is Ecological
Perhaps the most environmentally friendly aspect of natural gas is the efficiency factor. Monitoring shows an almost 40 percent efficiency improvement when natural gas conversion to electricity is measured against coal and oil. Furthermore, it performs favorably against renewable energy sources like wind and solar, as well. When availability and reliability are factors, natural gas provides more power for less expense. Yes, renewables' efficiency makes gains with advances in technology. Still, for now, natural gas does more with less, helping to keep cleaner energy accessible and economical.

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