Energy is the utmost necessity in today’s world. But the energy production method generates many greenhouse gases affecting the environment and habitat. 

Natural gas emerges as the best solution for providing heat and power, producing less greenhouse gases than other fossil fuels.

The commercial, residential and industrial implementation of natural gas explains it as the main energy source. Conclusion: there are both advantages and disadvantages of natural gas, which can benefit the environment and harm it.

Natural Gas

The gases formed deep beneath the earth’s surface are natural gases. It is also known as naturally occurring hydrocarbon gas, including methane and other alkanes, carbon dioxide, hydrogen, helium, nitrogen sulfide, etc.

Millions of years ago, the microscopic plants and animals living in the marine ecosystem absorbed energy from the sun and stored it as carbon molecules in their bodies.

After they died, they sank to the bottom and were buried deeper in the earth. After many years of layer formation of sediment and heat combined with compaction pressure, some organic feedstocks were converted to natural gas.

The formation of natural gas takes place deep down the earth’s surface. Among many different compounds, the largest component of natural gas is methane, with one carbon and four hydrogen atom.

Hundreds of million years ago and over long periods, the remains of plants and animals present deep down in the earth’s surface and ocean floor combined with sand, silt, and calcium carbonate.

Natural gas liquids(NGL, hydrocarbon gas liquids), and nonhydrocarbon gases, are present in smaller amounts in natural gas. They are used as fuel to operate in the factory or produce goods and materials.

Natural gas is commonly measured in Gigajoule(GJ), equivalent to a billion joules. The other measurement methods are Btu, known as British Thermal Unit, and Mcf, which refers to thousand cubic feet.

When the gaslights illuminated the streets of Baltimore in 1816, natural gas energy came to use for the first time. The government built the interstate pipeline network to bring natural gas service to customers all over the country during World War II.

Advantages And Disadvantages Of Natural Gas

They are present in the underground rock formation of the earth, in hydrocarbon reservoirs in coal beds, and methane clathrates. Biogenic and thermogenic are the two mechanisms used to produce natural gas.

advantages and disadvantages of natural gas
source: canva

Gas companies drill deeply down into hundreds of feet and pump into pipes to bring the gas to the earth’s surface. Let’s point out some advantages and disadvantages of natural gas.

Advantages of Natural Gas

These fossils buried underneath sand, silt, and rock are natural gas sources formed hundreds of millions of years ago. The pressure and heat changes on the earth’s crust converted some carbon and hydrogen-rich material into coal, soil, and natural gas.

Natural gas is comparatively cleaner and cheaper than other fossil fuels. The emission benefits and implementation in large-scale industries to household appliances are advantages of natural gas.

1. Plentiful supply of natural gas

Unlike fossil fuels, there is an abundant supply of natural gas on the earth. Almost a trillion barrels of natural gas reserves in the United States remain unharvested. Many sites and plants are waiting to get constructed for natural gas production.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), if the energy consumption remains similar to the current level, there will be plenty of natural gas for the next 230 years. 

In North America, there is an enormous source of natural gas. Other countries like India, China, and the UK have started replicating the gas extraction process like North America.

2. Easy transportation

Natural gas can be easily transported from one place to another. Unlike other gases, it is lighter than gasoline oil.

It generates smaller carbon footprints, which get delivered through different transportations like ships, cargo, tankers, and pipes. Hence, natural gas is a viable option for home usage as it condenses at about -162 degrees Celsius.

However, according to the National Transportation Safety Board, the safest option to transport natural gas is through the pipeline. It is ecofriendly for both public and the environment.

The cost per mile associated with the shipment of gas depends upon the size of the pipeline. Usually, a pipe with 12 inches costs about $300,000 per mile.

3. Natural gas pricing

It is always a cheaper form of energy compared to electricity. It can save up to 30% of your utility bill if you replace your appliances with a natural gas energy source.

The single kilowatt-hour of gas costs about 4p, whereas a single kilowatt of electricity is more than 16p.

Natural gas infrastructure always allows the distributor to deliver gas to the customers on demand, less likely to have supply and reliability issues than electricity supplies.

4. Safe

The natural gas network has the least casualty that also in decades compared to other resources. In Australia, the natural gas network experience only one unplanned outage every 40 years.

advantages and disadvantages of natural gas
source: freepik

Hence, when you have a natural gas supply in your home, even in the case of no electricity, you may still be able to access energy to operate other activities at home.

5. Less greenhouse gas emission

Yes, we know that natural gas is a fossil fuel, but it is more environmentally friendly than electricity as the chemical structure of natural gas is quite different than coal. 

It means the emission of greenhouse gases from natural gas is much lesser than coal emissions. Also, the combustion of these natural gas generates a negligible amount of mercury, sulfur, and other particulates.

In South Australia, gas-powered with hot water emits about 62% less CO2 than electricity. Today, gas delivers about 44% of Australia’s household energy, producing only 13% greenhouse gas.

6. Easier to store

Natural gas is easier to store in tanks above the ground than other energy sources. Usually, gas like methane and ethane are combustible and risky for storage; when converted to liquid form, they are convenient to handle.

The geological formations of natural gas are safe and efficient compared to other forms of gases. They also get stored in large reservoirs.

To accumulate natural gas liquid, it should get maintained at a pressure of 32,000 kPa at room temperature. However, as its molecules are hard to liquify, natural gas isn’t stored in households.

These advantages of natural gas make it the most viable energy source for transporting and storing.

7. Home appliances

Natural gas is used in many household applications to fuel heating, cooking, and electricity. The appliances with electricity supply can be operated with natural gas, as water heater and clothes dryer. 

advantages and disadvantages of natural gas
source: canva

Natural gas has gained popularity for barbecues and natural gas fireplaces. They are supplied through pipelines to the customer’s home for cooking or electric purposes.

These advantages of natural gas eliminate the long process of collecting, processing, and delivering the end product to the customers.

Disadvantages of Natural Gas

Natural gases have many aspects that must be considered before making them compatible by eliminating many harmful components. 

The extracting process is time-consuming, and the explosive nature of the gas is one of the disadvantages of natural gas. 

1. Highly inflammable

Apart from the different advantages of natural gas, there are still some cons associated with it. Natural gas is highly combustible that cause severe damage if it catches fire.

It is odorless, colorless, and tasteless, so it is hard to detect. The burnable nature of natural gas can lead to terrible explosions if produced to a great extent.

The main con with natural gas is if it gets leaked, it doesn’t possess odor and color, so people don’t notice it.

2. Creates pollution of water

Another disadvantage related to natural gas is there is always a certain amount of gas that gets into the air polluting the environment.

Hence, the pollution created has become one of the crucial concerns to environmentalists. It can be the main reason behind toxicity to drinking water, animals, human health, and the ecosystem.

Natural gas contributes to greenhouse gas production if produced under inappropriate conditions.

3. Natural gas is difficult to harness

While natural gas production is a fully-fledged matter, the process might get prolonged. There are some components present in natural gas that needs to get removed.

The extraction of these components is necessary for it to be helpful in residential purposes. However, the process takes a lot of time and labor-intensive work.

For the use of natural gas, chemical components except methane are necessary to produce or extract. They are present in different byproducts like ethane, propane, sulfur, nitrogen, and helium.

4. Can lead to violence and terrorism

For the extraction of natural gas, different plants use the drilling process. It happens mostly in Middle Eastern and African countries.

Most Colonialist countries lead to growth in violence and terrorism by despoiling the energy source. Hence, the situation might get worsen.

5. Long production process

Hydraulic fracturing, horizontal drilling, and acidizing are processes required to access a large amount of gas, increasing productivity. These practices can negatively impact the natural environmental habitat.

In hydraulic fracturing or fracking, the rock is split open with high-pressure streams of water, chemicals, and sand; when the gas escapes from the rock, the gas is stored or transported through the pipeline.

Fracking requires huge quantities of water, which will directly impact the water label and aquatic habitats. The major disadvantages of natural gas also include the long-term process, which should be done with minimal errors.

6. Health problems

Natural gas is one of the cheapest and abundant sources of energy, which has minimal effect on the health with the low level of exposure, but long-term exposure can result in death.

Natural contains chemicals like nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide, and methane, triggering respiratory problems, depression, and decreasing immunity. The major disadvantages of natural gas include various health problems.

Natural gas contributes to 22% of the energy source generated in the world. It has already established itself as the main energy source with domestic availability, low cost, and environment-friendly nature.

Natural gas is compressed and liquefied for use in vehicles. The advantages and disadvantages of natural gas depend on the preventive measure and appropriate procedures during production.

(Last Updated On: June 1, 2022)