As the leading natural gas provider in the Southeast, we’re often asked questions here at Gas South about this clean-burning fuel that go beyond our top-rated customer care and affordable rates. More and more, people want to know about the environmental impacts of natural gas and how it functions as a bridge fuel to cleaner energy. Let’s take a look at some of those questions.
Is natural gas renewable?
Yes and no. Like coal and oil, natural gas is what we call a fossil fuel, which means it’s typically not considered renewable. Most of the world’s supply of this clean-burning fuel lies deep underground where it was created hundreds of millions of years ago. It’s the product of organic matter from ancient plants and animals—predominantly in our prehistoric seas—that was buried under layers of silt, mud and rock. With time and pressure, the organic matter was converted to the clean-burning natural gas millions of people use each day. Just like coal and oil, there’s a finite amount of natural gas that waits to be harvested beneath the ground, but it remains plentiful and offers advantages coal and oil don’t, especially when we consider cost, environmental impact and reducing U.S. dependency on other countries for sources of fuel.
In recent years, new technologies have allowed us to go beyond collecting just what lies beneath the ground. A product known as renewable natural gas (RNG) can now be collected from decomposing organic waste materials—food, agricultural and forestry waste, landfills and wastewater. And it’s proving to be an environmentally conscious solution to the growing energy needs of homes and businesses everywhere.
What about natural gas environmental impacts?
Like coal and oil, natural gas has to be burned to create energy—either at a power plant to make electricity, at your home or business for heating and cooking or as a transportation fuel. And that does result in some carbon emissions. However, harmful emissions are much lower than that of coal, oil and the more traditional petroleum products used in transportation. And when we factor in direct home or business use—when it’s piped straight to you—versus using the electricity natural gas can generate at a power plant, efficiency goes up even more—reducing your carbon footprint and saving you money.
When compared to coal, which was the leading source of fuel burned at power plants until relatively recently, natural gas produces up to 60 percent less carbon dioxide per unit of energy. And it’s also more efficient as a transportation fuel compared to diesel fuel or gasoline, especially when that fuel is made from RNG. In early 2022, Gas South announced a new sustainable energy product called FlexRNG made from a blend of renewable natural gas and carbon offsets. Geared toward the transportation industry, the hope is that FlexRNG offers industrial users a cost-effective method to reduce their carbon footprint and do something great for the future of the planet.
Is natural gas a bridge fuel?
Yes, it is. Like the name implies, a bridge fuel is a source of energy that can help span the gulf of climate change—eventually leading us from one source of energy to another.
When it comes to relying solely on renewable energies like wind and solar, there’s still much work to be done. And it could take decades before we’ve advanced technology enough to cut our dependance on fossil fuels entirely. Gas South is an ally in this cause. That’s why we’ve committed to investing $50 million to solar projects by the end of 2023. We believe we have a responsibility to make the planet more sustainable for future generations.
In the meantime, clean-burning natural gas can help us get there. It’s affordable, plentiful and helps reduce air pollution, creating immediate health and environmental benefits.