How long will the natural gas boom last?

In the United States natural gas has overtaken coal as the number one source of electricity. Worldwide the story is the same. China is fighting to meet rising natural gas demand while Korea and Japan are among the world’s biggest importers of the fossil fuel. Despite this, the future of natural gas remains uncertain. More affordable renewable energy has the potential to disrupt the industry.

Exponential growth

In 1986 natural gas made up ten per cent of the US energy industry – by 2016 that figure had grown to 34 per cent. The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) has projected the share of electricity from gas will exceed coal by six per cent in 2019. Burgeoning supplies, low prices and increased flexibility have made natural gas attractive to investment. Of 16 new BP projects, 12 involve natural gas instead of oil.

Natural gas also burns twice as cleanly as coal, a feature that is particularly appealing for eco-aware nations.  As a result it has established itself as a viable solution to reducing harmful emissions.

The challenges

The price of renewable energy sources such as solar and wind are also falling. In 2015 UK forecasts predicted the price of electricity from offshore wind developers to average £117 per megawatt hour (MWh) – in 2017 that figure had fallen to £57/MWh. With a number of clean alternatives to natural gas producing energy, natural gas is facing competition as the winning energy source.

However wind and solar power face challenges with intermittency – solar energy production falls when the sun does not shine and wind cannot generate electricity on a non-windy day. Natural gas plays an important role in filling these gaps in production, indicating it will have a continuing part to play in the energy industry.

Measuring success

Renewables will play an important role in the move towards a clean energy future, but natural gas remains a necessity. Estimates show there is enough natural gas in the US to meet the country’s energy needs for the next 200 years.

While natural gas is cleaner than coal, it is still a fossil fuel that emits harmful greenhouse gases. With the growth of renewables, emphasis will be put on the Oil & Gas Industry’s ability to monitor and regulate such emissions.

Flow measurement is one of the most challenging forms of measurement. Fluenta’s FGM 160 uses ultrasonic technology to accurately measure gas flow. By understanding how much greenhouse gas is being emitted, oil and gas operators can identify the processes that are most damaging to the environment.

For more information about the FGM 160 – click here.

January 29, 2018 | News

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