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Natural gas in a zero-emission world

Natasha Dowling

The U.S. in 2018 witnessed the second-largest annual increase in energy-related emissions since 2000, even as coal-fired power generation dropped. Energy-related CO2 emissions rose by 2.7 percent and accounted for 86 percent of all greenhouse gases in the U.S.

The majority of Americans say climate change is happening, and more than half say it is caused by human activity – just look at how lockdowns due to COVID-19 are impacting air quality.  The energy industry is listening to these concerns. The U.S. was the second-largest market for clean energy investment in 2018. While solar and wind remain the frontrunners in renewables, natural gas may be another answer.

Natural gas is cheap and readily available. It is also a primary source for electricity generation, and electricity prices tend to decline as more natural gas is used for generation. While it is cleaner than coal, it still creates significant carbon emissions every year. However, take away the CO2 emissions and natural gas becomes a sustainable option.

Zero emission is possible. Numerous methods generate energy from natural gas without adding GHG (greenhouse gases) to the environment. For example, one option uses the carbon dioxide released from burning natural gas to drive turbines. Most of the CO2 is recycled during the process and the rest is captured cheaply.

Natural gas provides the operational flexibility and system reliability to deliver cheaper power to consumers. However, moving to zero emissions would require changes to infrastructure and technology.

Energy companies know climate change and emissions are important to their customers. The industry needs to deal with de-carbonization, disintermediation, and decentralization, and digitalization is the key to connecting everything.

According to a Capgemini Research Institute report, technologies such as artificial intelligence and automation are playing pivotal roles in managing supply and demand, increasing efficiencies in the entire value chain, and transforming business models. Intelligence automation has the potential to save the industry billions of dollars and drive growth.

Technological convergence is taking place with maximum impact from developments in AI, blockchain, and advanced control algorithms. The frontrunners in this transformation are boosting operations and increasing customer engagement.

Embracing technology means companies can explore possibilities such as zero-emission natural gas. It will require transformation on multiple levels but, as the world works to reduce emissions, solutions for supplying cost-effective electricity while dealing with GHG responsibly hold huge promise.

With extensive experience in energy and utilities and a passion for our planet, Natasha Dowling brings innovative solutions to our clients to meet their business needs and optimize operations. Reach out to her at to discuss how to reach your emission goals.