Natural gas as fuel: Thumbs down!

I never liked the idea of using natural gas as a “bridge energy fuel”. It seems to me unrealistic to invest substantially in additional CO2 producing infrastructure which will simply need to be stopped and teared down a lot sooner than their investors, developers, and users anticipate.

Now we hear, in detail, from Dr Ingraffea, that there are more problems. The relative forcing impact of methane compared to CO2 depends upon the point-in-time-after-emission the comparison is made. If, in fact, the urgency of the climate change problem is accepted, in a planning horizon of 50-100 years, then methane is a much bigger contributor to our collective quandary than if the planning horizon is 100-200 years. But, alas, the burning of methane as a fuel isn’t the primary problem. It appears there’s a lot of sidestream methane released in the generation of natural gas, especially when the method called fracking is used. Dr Ingraffea details the problems in the video below.

Ultimately, methane oxidizes to CO2, so it then, in a long time frame, contributes to the overall climate change problem.

A link to the report about converting New York State entirely to wind, water, and sun, mentioned in the video.

By the way, Professor and colleague John Carlos Baez did an Azimuth Project post on “Wind power and the smart grid” a bit back. This post has a lot of technical substance, especially in its links.

Addendum, 8th July 2014, 20:00 ET

Professors Pierrehumbert and Shindell disagree with this position. My view is that any CO2-emitting infrastructure will be difficult to reverse, irrespective of the reason, and especially because it was recently established. See press release and detailed study.

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