We get most of our energy from oil. However, oil resources are running dangerously low. In fact, humans may totally deplete them within the next 50 years, and oil is not renewable. Once it’s gone, it’s gone forever. We get about 30 percent of our energy from natural gas. However, it’s dangerously low, too. Is natural gas renewable? Are there any energy producing alternatives? We answer these questions and more in the following discussion.
What is Natural Gas?
Natural gas is mostly methane with a dash of ethane, butane, and propane. The planet Earth spent up to hundreds of millions of years forming fossil fuels.
The natural cycle of life and death occurred through several mega-annums (millions of years). As millennia progressed, new layers of plant and animal remains mixed with sand, silt, and calcium formed.
More time passed; the buildup of pressure increased. “The enormous heat and pressure turned the remains into oil and natural gas,” says the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).
Today, according to NBC News, “the deepest oil and gas wells have reached more than six miles below the surface.” With that in mind, we’re getting closer to the answer to the question at hand; “Is natural gas renewable?” It’s not looking good for natural gas.
Natural Gas Uses in the United States
In the early 1800s, humans only used natural gas to fuel lamps. Today, many sectors turn to it for a wide variety of uses. The EIA points out more uses than many people may realize.
- Fueling machines for process heating
- Producing chemicals, fertilizer, and hydrogen
The industrial sector uses about one third of the country’s total natural gas consumption.
- Heating homes and other buildings
- Heating water
- Drying clothes, towels, blankets, linens and more
Half of the country’s homes account for these residential uses. Is natural gas renewable for these households? The residential sector uses about 16 percent of USA’s total natural gas production.
- Heating buildings and water
- Operating refrigeration and cooling equipment
- Drying clothes
- Outdoor lighting
The commercial sector uses about 11 percent of the country’s total natural gas consumption.
- Operating compressors (compressors transport natural gas through pipes.)
- Fueling vehicles.
The transportation sector only uses about three percent of the USA’s natural gas consumption.
These uses and many others have consumed fossil fuels at a rather high rate of speed. It seems hard to imagine how we will sustain our current way of life without unlimited access to natural gas.
If it’s a renewable source of energy as its name can suggest, that would certainly be ideal. Despite its threat to our environment, it’s hard to imagine life without it.
Is Natural Gas Renewable?
While natural gas is the lesser of fossil fuel evils, it still emits alarming amounts of carbon dioxide. Coal produces 228.6 pounds of carbon dioxide. Comparatively, natural gas produces just 117 pounds. This considerable reduction in carbon dioxide emissions brought hope for a cleaner climate.
Additionally, natural gas is less expensive, which entices more customers. The industry saw a movement of plant renovations to accommodate natural gas processing over the last decade.
In the meantime, solar energy was making large strides in pricing and efficiency. That’s because prices are coming down rapidly. In fact, the cost to install a solar system is less now than it has ever been. Soon, these natural gas facilities will be making way for solar energy.
Solar isn’t the only threat to natural gas. While it’s a better fossil fuel for carbon dioxide emissions, it’s a fossil fuel, nonetheless. Therefore, natural gas will certainly dry up.
Although fossil fuels took hundreds of millions of years to form, we’ve almost depleted them. In fact, experts anticipate that humans will deplete all fossil fuel resources within a total timespan of just 200 years.
Is natural gas renewable? No, it certainly is not.
Why Solar Energy is the Wave of the Future
While humans depended on fossil fuels for two generations, solar energy is unlimited. Once we have undertaken the transition from fossil fuels to clean solar energy, we will have it for the life of our planet.
Furthermore, it virtually emits no carbon dioxide compared to natural gas. Natural gas emits 117 pounds, while solar emits about 1 pound. Prices for solar systems have been falling over the last few years and will continue to do so.
Many corporations are already using solar energy, including Target, Walmart, Apple, Costco, Kohl’s and Macy’s. The University of Berkeley asserts that 90 percent of the United States may be operating on solar and wind by 2035.
The U.S. is second only to China in solar energy implementation. We’re followed closely by Japan, Germany, and India. Is natural gas renewable? No, but solar energy is primed and ready to take its place for less money and cleaner air.