Natural Gas a Feasible Alternative to Coal

power-plant-Once the most common energy source within the US, the use of coal to generate power is now, thankfully, on the decline as its harmful impact on the environment has been extensively exposed.

Enter natural gas as a viable alternative as is evident from the boom in its production in recent years.. This fellow fossil fuel is considered less dangerous than coal as it only produces half the amount of carbon dioxide.

This year, gas will power a total of 35% of total energy in the US while coal drops to 30%; these figures are in stark contrast to just a few years ago when coal was responsible for over 50% of all electricity generation and natural gas just 20%. What’s more, this trend is on the rise with natural gas industry expanding at alarming rate.

Other Deadly Greenhouse Gas Emissions

However, is natural gas really less harmful than coal? While its carbon emissions are lower, burning it also produces the potent greenhouse gas, methane as a by-product. Methane is more 30 times more likely to trap atmospheric heat than CO2. Hence if too much methane is leaked during gas production, its advantages over coal can soon be cancelled out.

According to scientific research carried out over the years however, results suggest that methane leaks are currently not sufficient enough to cause natural gas to fare worse for our planet than coal. Moreover, the gas production system is purposely not sealed properly since some methane should be allowed to leak for safety reasons.

In order for natural gas to uphold its reputation as a cleaner fuel, scientists say that the industry must exercise every effort to reduce methane leakages. Apart from being essential to keep global warming in check, eliminating unnecessary leakages will also prove more profitable to the organisations in question.

Short-term Use of Natural Gas Is Beneficial

The long and short of it is that natural gas power plants still have a lower impact on the climate than coal powered plants, even when methane leakages are accounted for.

Natural gas is now considered by many to be a ‘bridge fuel’ that should help us to move away from the detrimental effects of coal to eventually making use of entirely renewable energy sources to safeguard the future of our planet.

All things, considered, natural gas is definitely a better option than coal but it may still have detrimental effects on our ecosystem so it shouldn’t be glorified or used for long-term purposes. Efforts to transition to completely renewable sources of power such as wind or solar should be a priority for all nations to put a stop to further large-scale damage being done to our planet.