Natural gas is currently the second most heavily consumed energy source across the United States. As of 2016, the U.S. was the largest producer of natural gas across the globe, producing nearly 750 billion cubic meters of gas. While alternative energy such as solar and wind attracts a lot of media attention, many experts natural gas has much greater potential to disrupt global energy markets.
Natural gas operators can affordably ramp up and down with accurate fluctuations as needed, making them an especially attractive investment. Now, natural gas is getting cleaner, too.
According to Grist, a startup called Net Power tried out its brand-new 50-megawatt power plant, showcasing its ability to burn natural gas without releasing dangerous greenhouse gases. If this breakthrough technology can work on much larger scale, it could be the flexible and emission-free energy source the world has been searching for in order to combat the negative effects of climate change.
According to Vox’s energy and climate change wrier, David Roberts, Net Power plans on expanding its energy capabilities, constructing another natural gas power plant, this time with 300 megawatts. That project is expected to commence some point during 2020.
“That will be a very big deal,” Roberts said. “Zero-carbon natural gas, with no air pollution, would be an excellent complement to renewable energy and a cleaner path for countries now planning for more fossil fuel use. It would change carbon capture from something expensive, burdensome, and inessential to something integral to power plants. But it would still have to find a place to bury all that CO2, or find someone to sell it to.”
If this newfound power plant can effectively produce natural gas without adding insulation to the earth’s heat-trapping jacket, it could be a revolutionary breakthrough.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Energy Star Program estimates that adding insulation and properly sealing air leaks for residential and commercial properties can slash energy bills by up to 20%, but insulation on a global scale can expedite certain problems associated with climate change.
Pierre Delforge of the National Resource Defense Council (NRDC) notes that other nationwide energy and insulation projects can certainly contribute to an improved global environment.
“Better insulation and windows required by the 2020 code, combined with solar panels, will reduce energy use in single-family homes by a whopping 53% compared to current code,” said Delforge. “This will prevent 700,000 metric tons of carbon pollution — the equivalent of zeroing out emissions from 115,000 cars.”
Delforge adds that there needs to be a stronger push towards natural gas and more of a movement away from conventional fossil fuels.
“Zero-net electricity falls short of zero-net energy and more importantly of zero-net-emissions,” he said. “The new (California energy) code doesn’t fully address one large remaining source of energy use in homes: the direct, onsite combustion of fossil fuels like natural gas and propane for space and water heating, which represent more than one-third of emissions in the building sector.”