Natural gas an emerging 'clean' energy option
YANKTON, S.D. -- The wave of the future is clean energy. The recent Copenhagen global warming conference addressed it, the Obama administration is pushing toward it and there have been myriad efforts for years to reduce carbon as a means of promo...
YANKTON, S.D. -- The wave of the future is clean energy. The recent Copenhagen global warming conference addressed it, the Obama administration is pushing toward it and there have been myriad efforts for years to reduce carbon as a means of promoting a healthier environment.
It now seems that states such as South Dakota may play a role in the development of a new kind of "clean" fuel and it's not blowing on a breeze. In fact, it's below our feet.
According to The Associated Press, natural gas is emerging as an attractive alternative fuel as the bid to cut carbon emission intensifies. Natural gas, which provides about 23 percent of the world's energy, emits about half as much carbon as does coal when burned to generate electricity. That's why many new energy plants are being fitted to run on natural gas rather than coal.
The big drawback historically to natural gas has been its availability. A decade ago, it was subject to shortages and wild fluctuations in pricing, which made it an unattractive energy source for industries.
But extraction techniques have improved. It now is thought that the nation sits on about 83 percent more natural gas than was thought 20 years ago. Natural gas now is in plentiful supply. And, as such things go, it also is quite inexpensive.
Currently, natural gas is used almost primarily to generate energy. But it someday may have more widespread use in powering automobiles.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources reported in April that South Dakota saw its highest rate of natural gas production in 25 years in 2008, totaling 1.1 billion cubic feet. South Dakota's entire natural gas production comes from three wells in Harding County, the state has reported.
Natural gas is not the all-encompassing answer to our energy issues. But it does provide some interesting alternative possibilities.