[Answered] “Gas is 50 per cent cleaner than coal on carbon emissions, significantly cleaner on sulphur oxides and nitrogen oxides, and has virtually non-existent PM 2.5 emissions, which is the big issue with respect to air quality.” Discuss.


Natural Gas composed mainly of methane (CH4) is a cleaner than the other fossil fuels such as coal and oil due to the highly efficient combustion process, which produces very few by-products that are released into the atmosphere as pollutants.

Natural gas is more environment friendly as compared to other traditional fossil fuels:
• It produces 50% less carbon dioxide emissions compared to other fossil fuels.
• Natural gas has high calorific value, and, hence burns more efficiently.
• Due to the clean burning process, natural gas does not leave residues like soot or ash when compared to coal.
• Unlike coal, main products of the combustion of natural gas are carbon dioxide and water vapor which are non-toxic and is not poisonous. Hence, it is much cleaner.
• Its lighter than air nature will ensure that it scatters quickly in the event of a leak.
• Also, it doesn’t produce sulfur dioxide, which is the primary precursor of acid rain; nitrogen oxides, which is the primary precursor of smog; and particulate matter, which can affect health and visibility.
In line with the advantages natural gas has over other fossil fuels India has committed to an emission reduction of 33-35% by 20130 and to increase the gas component in the energy mix from 6.5 to 15%.
However, challenges in switching to natural gas:
• Low levels of technological progress:Technological progressto effectively explore and supply in a channelised way is mandatory and we are yet to become completely technologically equipped to replace major energy component as gas instead of coal.
• Financial viability: Investments towards gas energy development is a low key affair in India. There is also lack of private participation. Also E&P for gas is costly than coal and the exploration of coal can be started easily with small capital rather than gas.
• Infrastructure: Transport is connectivity dependent where institutional infrastructure infrastructure like pipelines needs to be developed.
• Other limitations: Being odorless and tasteless it is thereby hard to detect in case of leakage; As methane is more toxic it poses high risk of damage in case of leakage; Being highly combustible and therefore call for extreme care while handling.
Though challenges lie, development of import capabilities both in terms of land terminals and floating terminals; rational pricing mechanism would augment production, thus it would help India meet its stated goal. TAPI gas project is welcome move in this direction.


 

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