Natural gas supplies are growing globally and demand for this low-carbon resource will continue to grow, according to a new report.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) recently released its annual World Energy Outlook, a comprehensive study that examines global energy markets, as well as the policies and market dynamics that shape the supply and demand trajectory of oil, coal, gas, nuclear and renewable resources. The IEA models a number of different market and policy scenarios to report projections of energy markets by country and sector.
The study found that natural gas demand grows no matter what scenario is examined. The robustness of the global natural gas resource, and the multitude of diverse uses for natural gas, leads to increased usage. Greater natural gas consumption in buildings, power generation and industrial usage, and as a transportation fuel, leads researchers to believe that natural gas will overtake oil to be the largest fuel in the domestic energy mix in 2030.
The global energy map is changing, spurred by a resurgence of natural gas and oil production in the United States. New technology has unlocked the potential for shale in North America and shifted our country’s global energy position from a net importer to a potential exporter.
A recent analysis by the U.S. Department of Energy indicates that U.S. exports of natural gas would allow for continued stable pricing for the 177 million Americans who depend on the safe and reliable delivery of natural gas every day, which is a priority for AGA and its members. The IEA study states that, “[Un]conventional gas accounts for nearly half the increase in global gas production to 2035.” However, the uncertainty of future supplies in international markets where shale development is in its nascent phase is noted.
IEA has positive news for renewable energy as well. By 2035, renewables will account for one-third of total electricity output globally, a result of a steady increase in hydropower and rapid growth in solar and wind. Energy efficiency will play a key role as well.
End-use matters. How we use a fuel and what fuel we use are the most important factors in reducing emissions. According to new data on global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), carbon dioxide – principally from fossil fuel combustion – is the most important GHG emitted by human activities. It accounts for 85 percent of the warming over the last decade. Yet of all fossil fuels, natural gas is the least carbon-dioxide intensive. Greater natural gas use in place of other fossil fuels reduces emissions.
Our country needs to focus on optimizing our natural gas resources, recognizing the benefits of increased use in homes, businesses, power generation, industrial plants and vehicles. A home with natural gas emits 37 percent less GHG than a house with all electricity and spends 30 percent less on energy. Increased use in the transportation sector decreases greenhouse gas emissions—by 29 percent compared to gasoline powered vehicles—and increases our national energy security by decreasing our reliance on oil imports from less stable nations.
Furthermore, investments need to continue to be made to help improve our pipeline infrastructure to further reduce emissions and continue to lay the groundwork – quite literally – for new and more efficient uses of our gas resources. The potential is significant.
Natural gas can affordably meet the energy requirements of the country and the globe as part of a diversified energy mix. The savings, combined with increased trade and additional jobs will help grow our economy.
The IEA says the resource is here to stay. Let’s make sure we use it right.