Clean-burning natural gas is a safe and abundant source of energy that has been used for power generation and home heating across North America for generations.
As the cleanest-burning hydrocarbon, natural gas reduces greenhouse gas (GHG) and other emissions when it replaces other fossil fuels as a necessary source of energy for electrical power generation, heating and transportation.
For example, latest-generation natural gas power generation plants are highly efficient and produce 50 percent fewer GHG emissions than coal-generated plants. For more information see CAPP Upstream Dialogue, The Facts On Natural Gas, 2012.
Significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions since the early 2000’s in Canada and the United States are widely attributed to using natural gas as a replacement for coal in electrical power generation plants in North America (Environment Canada, IEA).
Recent advances in drilling and completion technologies dramatically increased the size of the commercially viable natural gas resource in North America, positioning natural gas as the best available alternative to coal-fired electrical generation not only in North America but around the world.
Natural gas consumption is expected to increase by from 120 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) in 2012 to 203 Tcf in 2040 and to meet the rising demand the world’s natural gas producers are projected to increase supplies by 69% during this time frame. In the Americas region the electric power sector accounts for 39% of the area growth in natural gas consumption and most of this consumption increase will occur as natural gas is used as a substitute for coal-fired power generation. Most of this domestically used and exported gas would be used to displace coal as a fuel for power generation in the Americas and other parts of the world, improving greenhouse gas intensity and reducing emissions. In Canada, electricity generation powered by natural gas is expected to increase by 15% from 2014 to 2040 and coal-fired power generation will decrease by 7% in this same time frame. In the U.S., electricity generation from natural gas exceeded coal for the first time in history in 2016 and, by 2040, electricity generation by natural gas is expected to increase by 30% while generation by coal is expected to fall by 25% in the same time period. In 2014 liquefied natural gas (LNG) accounted for 10% of global natural gas consumption and Global LNG trade is expected to increase by one third from 2012 to 2020. Most of the projected LNG trade increase is in North America and Australia where many LNG projects are planned or currently under construction.
Since it is such an abundant and relatively inexpensive source of power, natural gas also has the potential to propel a renaissance of environmentally responsible manufacturing.
Low-emission CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) and LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) engine technologies have been successfully deployed as economically viable fuels for transportation. Natural gas engines have 15 to 30 percent fewer GHG emissions than diesel-powered trucks and buses. The City of Calgary conducted a pilot program to test Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) buses which concluded that 400 CNG buses would provide $3MM in annual savings over diesel powered buses. As a result of this successful pilot, a new CNG Storage and Transit Facility was approved and construction of this facility began in April 2017 and is expected to be completed by early 2019.
Over recent years, LNG engine technologies have gained increasing traction as a lower-impact, economical replacement for diesel in high-horsepower applications on land and at sea around the world.