Gas between fossil and renewable energies

Gas seems unclassifiable in today’s energy world.

Some see it clearly as a fossil energy, emitting CO2, and pose on it a reproving glare, in the air of time. Others see in it the fossil energy with the least CO2 emission. Still others do not exclusively think to natural gas and consider biogas as an insufficiently exploited renewable resource.

All are right but monodirectional points of view have little place in the world of energy, a privileged area of ??consensus as it is impossible to find the perfect mix combining security of supply, energy independence, protection of the environment and economy.

I was surprised in recent months to find in gas distributors or suppliers, managers doubting the permanence of their activity, deeply destabilized by certain messages.

I do not share this pessimism.

  • First of all, gas is a base load energy, certainly among the least expensive, which, as a bonus, is stored and transported easily. Transport and storage infrastructures are quite developed. Few energy sources have these characteristics.
  • Gas is the fossil energy with the least CO2 emission. Substitution of coal and oil by “clean”, non-CO2-emitting energies is not always possible: “clean” energies (solar, wind) are not available everywhere in satisfactory quantities and the rate of intermittent energies acceptable (for technical or economic reasons) in a country may be limited. In these cases, gas is an interesting transition energy.
  • Substituting fossil fuels with clean energy can take a long time. Gas-based electricity generation capacities are rapid to install and can be an intermediate stage for some of the substitution evoked.
  • Although it does not represent an enormous potential, biogas is a renewable energy source that it is important to capture. They are likely to be part of the landscape for a few decades.
  • Finally, in a more prospective way, other gases than methane could take an important part in the energy mix: hydrogen for example. It is indeed legitimate to seek gaseous sources of energy that are not very polluting and benefit from all the advantages of gases, because developing energies such as solar and wind have drawbacks that require finding complementary energies.

The development of gas will necessarily take place differently in the years to come, taking into account the presence of other energies in the energy mix. It may be restrained in some territories, accelerated in others. But it seems unreasonable to foresee a threat to gaseous energies identical to that on coal and, secondly, on oil.

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