Is Natural Gas Renewable?

EnergyCalendarMarch 5, 2019

What is natural gas? Where does it come from? Who uses it? Is natural gas renewable?

In this article, we’ll answer all of these questions and more.

Differences Between Renewable Energy And Nonrenewable Energy

Energy sources are usually broken up into two categories. There are renewable sources of energy and nonrenewable sources of energy.

A renewable source of energy comes from anything that can be replenished or renewed quickly. 

Think of water, for example. 

If you build a hydroelectric dam next to a river the water will push past the turbines, moving them and creating electric power. Even though you just used the water to create electricity, it’s still there. You haven’t destroyed the water, and if you can find a way to put it back into the river, you could use it to create more electricity. Additionally, if any minor water loss occurs during the whole process, that water can be replaced the moment it rains.

Nonrenewable energy, on the other hand, cannot be reused or replaced as easily.

Uranium can be used to create nuclear energy. Uranium is used to heat up water until it turns into hot steam, which then starts moving the turbines inside a power plant. Although the water could be reused or easily replenished if necessary, the uranium cannot. Once you’ve used uranium, it cannot be used again. Additionally, there’s a finite amount of uranium in the world and it will take millions of years for those stores to replenish.

That’s the main difference between these two types of energy. One can be renewed quickly while the other takes so long that we consider it to be gone forever after it’s used.

What Is Natural Gas?

When we’re talking about natural gas, we’re usually talking about a type of fossil fuel. These fossil fuels are made from the remains of plants and animals that were buried deep under the earth and were converted into natural energy resources thanks to millions of years of heat and pressure.

The most common form of natural gas on earth is methane. Methane and other natural gases such as ethane, propane, butane, and pentane are usually taken from both natural gas and crude oil wells. Each of these gases is chemically different from one another but they can all be used to create energy in certain circumstances.

Natural gas is mostly for industrial use and electric power. These two sectors consume roughly 69% of all the United States’ natural gas. 16% is used to power residential homes, while the rest is used for commercial ventures and transportation.

Although natural gas is used in every state, 38% of all U.S. natural gas is consumed by Texas, California, Louisiana, Florida, and Pennsylvania.

Natural Gas Fossil Fuels Vs Natural Gas Biomethane

There are other forms of non-fossil-fuel natural gases out there.

Biomethane is an example of this.

Biomethane, also known as biogas, is a pipeline-quality gas made from organic matter. Biomethane can be made from materials from landfills, livestock, wastewater, and other sources. Any one of these sources can go through a series of biochemical processes including anaerobic digestion and thermochemical gasification to become a source of biomethane.

Once the organic matter has been converted into biomethane, it can then be used much like other forms of natural gas.

Is Natural Gas Renewable?

So is natural gas renewable?

Well, that depends.

Are we talking about natural gas that comes from fossil fuels or natural gas formed from biomethane? If we’re talking about traditional fossil fuels, then no. There’s a finite amount of fossil fuels in the earth and when they run out, they’re gone.

Biomethane, however, is a renewable, natural gas.

It’s considered renewable because of how easy it is to make, especially compared to nonrenewable energy sources like fossil fuels. As long as you have livestock matter or landfill materials, you can make more biomethane.

So what we traditionally consider to be natural gas is not renewable, but there are some alternative forms of natural gas such as biomethane, that are renewable.

Although natural gases, no matter where we get them from, are cleaner than coal and other fossil fuels, they still produce some carbon emissions.

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