With all the bustling of modern energy sources in the future, natural gas is an often-overlooked option. It might not seem like it, but natural gas has many advantages over the old guard of fuels. It can compete on many fronts, even cleanliness, with the newly emerging energy sources of solar and wind.
The single biggest advantage natural gas has is its availability. This comes in several forms. First and most obviously, it is easy to come by. Natural gas was long viewed as a waste by product of oil drilling and was simply vented into the air. Now that systems have been built to use natural gas it is actively being collected for use.
The second main form is quantity. Many natural gas reserves are quite large and for the most part untapped. Natural gas can provide the backbone energy rates in the short term needed to pick up the slack from old coal networks. It will even work as a replacement for gasoline. This is projected to be its biggest use case.
Gas pipelines and shipping are much cheaper safer than traditional fuels. With the biggest concerns of a leak being methane, rather than toxic spills or dumps. Natural gas is usually pressurized into a liquid and shipped much like oil. This allows reusing existing infrastructure. When burnt the gas produces only around half the emissions from a coal plant. However, with a vehicle the rates are much less. Sometimes as low as 15% of the heat trapping gas compared to gasoline. Other harmful particles such as mercury are negligible with natural gas. Even NOx, which leads to smog, is vastly reduced.
Many alternative energy sources have always run into a fuel effectiveness problem. They don’t have as good of performance causing slow acceleration and low speeds. While natural gas is not quite as energy dense as gasoline and diesel, it does have very similar performance. With a larger fuel tank most converted vehicle will meet the same performance requirements they had before.
Converting to a natural gas system is relatively cheap compared to other alternatives. The distribution network is already set up through-out most of the country. This leaves only the fueling stations to be built. Additionally, the emissions requirements are much easier to meet thanks to natural gas being so clean. After converting over to a natural gas system, the cost to run a vehicle are similar.