Don’t Call Natural Gas a Bridge Fuel
Posted June 27, 2018
It will come as no surprise that the role of natural gas in meeting future energy needs is a hot topic at this week’s World Gas Conference 2018. After all, you won’t find a group more passionate about world energy.
What was surprising is just how many leaders from all aspects of industry agree on one major point: that natural gas is a foundation for the world’s energy future. And don’t call it a bridge fuel.
I'll start with the obvious – API’s own Marty Durbin speaking at a WGC panel:
“Ten years ago some of our friends in the environmental community were praising natural gas as a bridge to renewables. I think right now many of them believe that bridge is way too long. And I would urge that it’s not a bridge but a foundation and will be a foundation for years to come.”
Dave McCurdy, president and CEO of the American Gas Association:
“[The U.S.] abundance of energy changed the conversation about our energy future forever. … By safely producing, transporting and delivering natural gas, we’re changing the world we live in. … Natural gas is a foundation fuel for prosperity around the world.”
Or, put simply by Chevron Chairman and CEO Michael Wirth:
“Natural gas underpins our energy future.”
But what about renewables? Aren’t they the future?
As explained by another WGC speaker, Fortis Inc. President Barry V. Perry:
“Natural gas is a foundational tool, not a transitional fuel. It’s a perfect match for renewables, filling in the gaps when the sun doesn’t shine, or wind doesn’t blow… [and] in itself is a long-term energy solution.”
Natural gas is uniquely positioned among energy sources to provide necessary reliability attributes, including dispatchability, ramp rates, frequency response, that ultimately ensure the health of the U.S. grid. As the United States’ leading energy source for generating electricity, natural gas generation has improved the stability and balance of our nation’s power system.
And, it’s the chief reason U.S. carbon dioxide emissions are at 25-year lows.
Just to hammer the point home, let’s hear from the chorus of industry experts at WGC week:
Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency:
“Increasing the share of power [coming] from wind and solar creates the challenge of managing intermittency. Natural gas is in the fast lane thanks to its flexibility, and the role it plays in helping the environment.”
Laurent Vivier, president of gas at Total:
“The combination of gas and renewables is quite sustainable for the future. …[with] increasing intermittency in the renewable energy mix, natural gas is the logical complement to resolve this.”
Another note from Fortis’ Perry:
“Gas allows us to facilitate more renewables to come onto the grid. …We balance the increase in renewables [with] an increase in gas fired generation and diversify away from coal. The grid works well because of that. We couldn’t have made progress in renewables without natural gas, and that is going to continue for some time.”
The U.S. Energy Information Administration, in its International Energy Outlook, predicts that global natural gas consumption will increase by 1.4 percent per year through 2040, with abundant natural gas resources and rising production—including supplies of tight gas, shale gas, and coalbed methane—contributing to its strong competitive position.
Breaking things down further, EIA projects that world natural gas use will increase 43 percent by 2040:
The ongoing U.S. renaissance in natural gas and oil production puts America in a strong position for the future, especially in the context of rising world energy demand. Continued growth in domestic natural gas and oil production offers the U.S. a chance to grow in its energy self-sufficiency.
About The Author
Jessica Lutz is a writer for the American Petroleum Institute. Jessica joined API after 10+ years leading the in-house marketing and communications for non-profits and trade associations. A Michigan native, Jessica graduated from The University of Michigan with degrees in Communications and Political Science. She resides in London, and spends most of her free time trying to keep up with her energetic Giant Schnauzer, Jackson.