Natural Gas: Cheap, Clean and Reliable
Source: redOrbit (12/22/09)
"Now, energy experts think that the large volume of supply will serve to balance the price of natural gas."
Natural gas, which is cheaper than oil and cleaner than coal, is the same fossil fuel that was so scarce just a decade ago that it was considered unreliable. Now, it is emerging so quickly that its price has been driven to the lowest it has been in seven years.
Half the homes in America have been heated using natural gas for quite a while, and it is becoming the fuel of choice for new power plants. Utilities and other companies see natural gas as a way to cut emissions and costs. In the future it may commonly be used in vehicles instead of gasoline.
The ample supply and low cost of natural gas has come just in time to become part of the international discussion about how to reduce carbon dioxide and other factors contributing to climate change. Many are expecting the debate to lead to a tax increase on companies responsible for exorbitant amounts of greenhouse gas emissions.
Currently, coal-fueled power plants are responsible for about 27% of the nation's carbon dioxide emissions. They generate 44% of the electricity used in the U.S., and a little under 25% of power comes from burning natural gas, which is more than twice its share a decade ago and still growing.
In order for natural gas to become a viable fuel source, it will have to be plentiful and come at a reliable price. Factories that wanted to burn gas instead of coal in the 1990s were forced to install equipment that could use gas and coal because the gas supply was unsteady and extreme price fluctuations were common. In some states, a fear of shortages led to homebuilders being told that new gas hookups were not allowed.
Now, energy experts think that the large volume of supply will serve to balance the price of natural gas.