Why The Green Transition Can’t Happen Without Natural Gas

Just as natural gas has competed with coal as the prime fuel for electricity in the last decades, renewables are putting pressure on the blue, clean-burning source of energy. The competition is fierce and will likely get worse. Yet, it is still too early to discount gas. This was the message at the 36th  International Gas Congress in Croatia, where I spoke on Joe Biden’s plan to stop drilling on federal lands.

The International Gas Union (IGU), with over 160 members from the U.S. to Qatar, is a non-profit that advocates for natural gas as an integral part of the global energy system. The Vice President and the future (2025) President of IGU Andrea Stegher, a Senior Vice President Commercial & Stakeholder Engagement in the Italian energy giant SNAM, is convinced that the gas industry is facing a historic challenge but also a great opportunity. Gas was long hailed as a “transition” fuel from hydrocarbons to renewables. Given what we know about the state of technology and energy poverty around the world, gas should be around for many decades.

However, Stegher believes that the industry has not articulated its message clearly enough: “in the past, the industry wanted to be invisible, like our pipes,” Stegher says.  This may not be working as well in the era of fierce energy competition, where coal is fighting for its life while renewables are treated as a world-saving panacea.

“Fuel switching from dirty coal and oil applications to clean gas is a proven solution that works now,” comments Stegher. “We shouldn’t just focus on future unproven or non-commercial technology ‘perfect’ solutions and forget what can have a significant beneficial effect today.”

Electricity producers have cast themselves as a solution, whereas the picture should be more complex: in the next two or three decades, over two billion people will join the circle of those who receive electricity. Most of them poor. Can we honestly demand that they only consume electricity from renewables, even if their countries do not have the financial resources, the industrial base, or the technical knowledge to provide it?

Rich nations and people can afford to invest in new technologies, and the gas industry is working on new ‘green’ pathways like hydrogen, whereas the poor just need basic light, heat, and power for their burgeoning populations.

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Source: Forbes

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