Natural gas is a fossil fuel that, when combusted for energy, releases considerably fewer emissions than other sources such as oil or coal. To reach global warming goals set by the international community, focusing on reducing harmful emissions, natural gas can ensure that we continue to meet increasing demand for energy while working towards these goals.
At the moment, renewable sources of energy, such as wind turbines and solar panels, are unable to satisfy demand, so natural gas can essentially make up the difference. Natural gas infrastructure is also well developed, with established pipeline networks and storage facilities, and proven technology. If we wish to replace power sources such as coal, natural gas will play an important role.
Continuing research, developing technology and improving cost effectiveness will also see natural gas being combined with renewable energies in the near future and being widely adopted.
To try to slow down global warming, climate targets were set at both global and national levels. Germany is among the countries with the most ambitious targets, which is why it has given massive support to developing renewables, first and foremost wind and solar energy.
CO2 emissions show no signs of slowing down, and 750 million tons per year on average are still emitted each year, because climate-damaging coal continues to be the primary source of energy.
A large amount of our electricity, around 40%, is generated from hard coal and lignite. Natural gas, however, accounts for a much smaller amount. In Europe, for example, natural gas accounts for only 18%.
This is partially because electricity that came from nuclear power plants in the past now comes from coal. However, in the future, to sustainably supply electricity, it will be important to utilize natural gas. This is not only because of the lower emissions, but also because gas-fired power plants are more efficient than coal-fired power plants.
Compressed natural gas can also provide a clean alternative to crude oil in the transportation industry. It has certain advantages over electric-powered transportation; in Europe, for example, there is already an established network of compressed natural gas stations, but there are still not many electric charging stations.
It should also be noted that the first gas-powered cruise ship set sail last year in 2018. We can see that more companies that rely on transportation are turning towards natural gas to power their vehicles and ships due to increased efficiency, the lower levels of emissions and increasing cost effectiveness.