The short-term future of energy is "low-carbon", but the ultimate aim that we are all committed to achieving is to be completely carbon free. Getting there will take time and will also require tools to make this transition possible. One of these is undoubtedly natural gas. Although also a fossil fuel, this raw material is uniquely placed to facilitate the transition from the current intensive use of carbon to a low-carbon future. Even the latest World Energy Outlook of the International Energy Agency (IEA), presented in December 2019, predicts that gas will be the fastest-growing source of energy over the next two decades, second only to solar power and four times faster than oil.
Natural gas is a blend of gaseous hydrocarbons, predominately methane, and is a cleaner energy source than coal or oil. In the transport sector, for example, the adoption of methane-based fuels can reduce CO2 emissions by 20-25 per cent compared to traditional fossil fuels such as gasoline and diesel.
But natural gas can have an even more positive impact when used as a means of generating electricity. In that context, natural gas has the lowest carbon footprint of all fossil fuels, generating about half the CO2 emissions of coal per kWh of electricity generated, even taking into account the “fugitive emissions” associated with methane production. The Centrale Electrique du Congo project shows how gas is a viable alternative to coal and oil when it comes to generating electricity.