Clean Energy is working to change the way North America fuels its vehicles.
Natural gas (CNG, LNG, RNG and other forms) is the bridge technology to get reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions now. While idealism is critical to our success, trying to leapfrog to zero emissions means carrying on with the status quo, essentially continuing the use of bunker fuel in ships, burning coal in our power plants, and running trucks fleets on diesel while we wait for anticipated breakthrough viable alternatives to be developed. This approach is a formula that could end the human race.
“To work at scale, current wind and solar technologies need backup energy sources—which means fossil fuels—for windless days, long periods of cloudy weather, and nighttime. They also require much more space; for example, to provide as much power as a coal-fired plant, a wind farm needs more than 10 times as much land.” Other models show much larger areas of land are needed for modern renewables to replace coal-fired plants.
Other models show much larger areas of land are needed for modern renewables to replace coal-fired plants.
Gates made reference to a January 2014 Scientific American article by Vaclav Smil called “Renewable Energy Sources Could Take The World by Storm” subtitled “The great hope for a quick and sweeping transition to renewable energy is wishful thinking”. Smil explains how we have to be careful not to buy into new energy technology fads and business ventures cautioning governments against “picking apparent winners only to abandon them soon for the next fashionable option (remember fast breeder reactors or fuel cell cars running on hydrogen?)”.
He points out how global transition from each major energy source to the next has historically taken 50 or more years to rise to the top spot moving from Coal to Oil to Natural Gas which is bridging the transition to “Modern Renewables”. Natural Gas usage will soon supply 30% of global energy demand while modern renewables have not yet reached five percent.
Electric Vehicles may well be one of the new energy technology fads to avoid blindly picking as an overall winner for a number of reasons including:
They use electrical power generated from coal and other less than clean sources. If the power supply isn’t switched off coal, it just transports the pollution downstream. For example, converting a highly efficient Honda Civic gasoline gas to an electric vehicle using electricity generated from a coal-fired power plant.
The Natural Gas bridge to Modern Renewables needs more attention and support from the global community. Maybe it’s too straightforward and politicians want to be the first to support one-of-a-kind mega solar projects or declare the next “energy winner”. The critical path to saving the human race is pretty appealing. CNG is a “Today” solution, with immense scale, affordability and rapid deployability to move our world toward zero emissions.
CNG solutions will not only reduce GHG emissions but in countries like China would save millions of lives due to reduced NOX, SOX and particulate emissions. China’s struggle with emissions has lead them to rapidly decommission coal-fired power plants and move more of their economy to Natural Gas moving forward.
The fact is Modern Renewables are not there yet. It’s too early to pick a winner. What is here NOW is Natural Gas which can take the world a large step in the right direction, significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and acting as a bridging fuel until Modern Renewables are viable and a clear winner.