The type of gases that get formed deep beneath the earth’s surface is known as natural gases. It is also known as naturally occurring hydrocarbon gas that includes methane and other alkanes, carbon dioxide, hydrogen, helium, nitrogen sulfide, etc. Natural gas is necessary as it is a source of fuel, making materials and chemicals.
Natural gases usually contain a high amount of methane. Methane is known to be the simplest type of hydrocarbon.
They are present in the underground rock formation of the earth, in hydrocarbon reservoirs in coal beds, and in methane clathrates. Natural gases can get created by two common mechanisms that are biogenic and thermogenic. To bring the gas to the earth’s surface, gas companies drill deeply down into hundreds of feet and pump into pipes.
Let’s dive into some advantages and disadvantages of natural gas.
Advantages of Natural Gas
1. Plentiful Supply of Natural Gas
Unlike fossil fuels, there is an abundant supply of natural gas on the earth. There are almost a trillion barrels of natural gas reserves in the United States that remain unharvested. There are still many sites and plants 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 get easily transported from one place to another. Unlike other gases, it is lighter than gasoline oil. It generates smaller carbon footprints. It can get shipped through different transportations like ships, cargo, tankers, and pipes.
Hence, natural gas is a viable option for home usage as well. It condenses at about -162 degrees Celsius. However, according to the National Transportation Safety Board, the safest option to transport natural gas is from the pipeline. It is ecofriendly as well 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. Cheaper Than Electricity
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.
The infrastructure of natural gas always allows the distributor to deliver gas to the customers on demand. There is less likely to have supply and reliability issues compared to electricity supplies. In Australia, the natural gas network experience only one unplanned outage every 40 years.
Hence, when you have a natural gas supply in your home, then even in the case of no electricity, you may still be able to access energy to operate other activities at home.
4. Less Greenhouse Gas Emission
Yes, we know that natural gas is a fossil fuel, but it is more environmentally friendly than electricity. The chemical structure of natural gas is quite different than coal. It means the emission from natural gas is much lesser than coal emissions. Let’s, dig into some facts.
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, but it produces only 13% greenhouse gas. Also, the combustion of these natural gas generates a negligible amount of mercury, sulfur, and other particulates.
5. Easier to Store
Compared to other energy sources, natural gas is easier to store. It can get stored in tanks, above the ground. Usually, gas like methane and ethane has storage problems but, if they get converted into liquid form then, it’s convenient.
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 needs to remain at room temperature. It should get maintained at a pressure of 32,000 kPa. However, natural gas doesn’t get kept in household tanks because its molecule is hard to liquefy.
Disadvantages of Natural Gas
1. Highly Inflammable
Apart from the different advantages possessed by natural gas, there are still some cons associated with it. Natural gas is highly combustible that cause severe damage if it caught fire. It is odorless, colorless, and tasteless, so it is hard to get detected. 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 does contribute a minor part to greenhouse gas production if it gets produced under inappropriate conditions.
3. Natural Gas is Difficult to Harness
For the use of natural gas, chemical components except methane are necessary to produce or extract. They are present in different products. Some byproducts are hydrocarbons like ethane, propane, sulfur, carbon dioxide, and even 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 of the Colonialist countries lead to growth in violence and terrorism by despoiling the energy source. Hence, the situation might get worsen.
5. Long Production Process
While the production of natural gas is a fully-fledged matter, the process might get prolonged. There are some components present in natural gas that needs to get removed. Then only it can be helpful to residential areas. However, the process takes a lot of time and labor-intensive work.(Last Updated On: May 30, 2021)