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Natural Gas key to the Renewable Energy Age

Environmental Defense Fund eyes natural gas as key to the Renewable Energy Age.
Author: Leo Stalling

Fixing natural gas’ methane problems can bridge the gap of fossil fuel dependency to a de-carbonized age ran by clean and renewable energy. This was the conclusion of Diane Regas, an executive director of the Environmental Defense Fund, during the Globe 2016’s conference about Accelerating the Energy Transition.

“(Moving to a low-carbon economy is) one of the most important transitions we need to make,” said Regas. “Most people are really surprised about the role that natural gas can play.”

Coal isn’t a feasible source of energy when it comes to powering plants for the long run, making it a dead-end industry. While crude oil is still the most used source of energy by many industries, experts say it is inevitable for them to use natural gas in the future given oil’s limitations. The transition, however, will take some time but when it finally happens, the U.S. and Canada will both benefit economically from an innovative advantage and abundance of unconventional oil and gas.

eia-lng-importsIn the short term, domestic use of natural gas and liquefied natural gas (LNG) used as exports can have economic and environmental benefits for both the U.S. and Canada. The oil and gas industry, however, would have to address the environmental concerns first for this to work, including the seismic activity from fracking and methane gas emissions.

“It’s a big issue that has not got enough attention,” Regas went on to document. “It’s also a huge opportunity. If you can reduce methane emissions by 45%…that would be equivalent to closing about a third of the coal plants.”

To make the extraction of LNG properly, Sulzer, a Swiss engineering firm that works closely with IBBC-member Unaoil, uses a separation technology and injection-mixing devices for a process called “desuperheating.” The firm also uses pumps for tanker loading and tank farm transfer, which operate at cryogenic temperatures.

When it comes to the debate of climate change, many experts talk about the emissions caused by Carbon Dioxide (CO2). However, Regas states that more of the focus should be on methane, which is 85% more lethal than CO2 as a greenhouse gas, due to its heat insulating elements. Methane emissions cause 25% of the world’s greenhouse gas problems.

Leo Stalling: Leo has worked in the oil and gas industry for 20 years. Upon retirement he hopes to have time to travel Asia, while maintaining a blog and enjoying warmer climates.

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