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The IEA Expects a Natural Gas "Golden Age"

Written By Brianna Panzica

Posted June 7, 2011

A rising question on energy consumption goes something like this: “How do we cut down on environmental dangers while still satisfying the massive demand for efficient energy?”

The answer? Cut down on our use of dirty fossil fuels.

And lately this has started to seem possible.

Natural gas is on the rise.

According to a report released by the International Energy Agency (IEA), a “golden age” for natural gas could be on the horizon.

As demand for the resource grows, it is speculated the use of natural gas will increase to 25% of total global energy use by 2035.

The effects of the Fukushima disaster in Japan – one being a worldwide reconsideration of nuclear energy – has had a lot to do with this demand increase.

Germany announced its plan to shut down all 17 of its reactors.

And now China – a country that has one of the highest carbon emissions – has decided to cut down on pollution by increasing its use of natural gas.

By 2035, demand in China alone could match that of all the countries of the European Union.

To compliment this, a shale boom in the U.S. has allowed widespread drilling for the resource, made easier by new drilling methods.

The method used to break apart shale rocks to release gas is called hydraulic fracturing, nicknamed “fracking”, and is accomplished by injecting a mixture of chemicals and water into the rocks.

The IEA has announced environmental concerns attached to this technique, however.

The methane gases released when the shale rocks are busted apart have harmful effects on the environment.

And the hydraulic fracturing method has the potential to contaminate drinking water sources.

The IEA is working on regulations and precautions that could help minimize these risks and allow drilling to proceed safely. And the risks are being weighed against the benefits.

The goal is to decrease pollution as demand rises.

It seems that across the globe, nations are becoming more environmentally conscious.

This is something to be thankful for, as the consequences of environmental neglect have become increasingly more apparent in recent years.

A goal has been set in place to keep the worldwide temperature increase to under 2° Celsius.

However, some scientists fear using more natural gas will not help attain that goal.

The increase in natural gas usage will minimize the effects of fossil fuels on global warming, but it will by no means eliminate them.

Although natural gas is the cleanest of all the fossil fuels, it is still a fossil fuel.

Burning it will impact the ozone.

But it is hoped that minimizing the use of more harmful fuels will at least lessen the effects.

At least it’s a step in the right direction.

That’s all for now,


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