Natural Gas – Its History and Its Future
Natural Gas is a naturally occurring mixture of gases formed organically from decomposing plant and animal matter buried in sedimentary rock layers over millions of years.
Natural gas is odourless, colourless, and tasteless, and when burned, it gives off energy that you can use for cooking, heating and generating electricity, as well as for a large number of commercial and industrial applications.
Where is Natural Gas found?
Typically located in rock formations, large reservoirs called sedimentary basins, natural gas can also be found on its own. In some areas, gas moves into large spaces between overlying rock layers. In other places, you can find natural gas within sandstone, shale, and sedimentary rock formations.
How is Natural Gas extracted?
The most common extraction technique is drilling a hole (or well) through the rock to allow the gas to escape and be collected.
Facts about gas that may surprise you
- The word gas was coined in 1650–60 by J. B. van Helmont (1577–1644), a Flemish chemist, and comes from the Greek word for chaos.
- Gas companies add the smell of rotten eggs to Natural Gas as a safety precaution to make leaks easier to detect.
- Natural gas can come in two forms – dry or wet.
- Along with heating and cooking, natural gas is used in manufacturing, including producing many of the things we use every day without much thought like flooring materials, Aspirin, artificial limbs, heart valves, sunglasses, and so many more.
- Australia’s gas distribution networks run for around 90,000 kilometers.
- Over 11 million Australian gas appliances are used for household heating, cooling, and hot water.
Benefits of Natural Gas
In Western Australia, you’ll find one of the most significant benefits of natural gas in your quarterly bill when you realise that you can pay around 50% less than grid-based electricity. Savings like this can be significant, especially if you are raising a family. Energy Networks Australia released a fact sheet about the benefits of natural gas, you can read it here.
Have you ever been to a barbeque only for the host to realise their gas bottle is empty? With a plumbed-in barbeque, not only will the BBQ be far more reliable, but you have none of the messy clean-up associated with heating coals.
Hydrogen – is it the future of gas in WA?
As the world changes, companies are looking to the future for innovative energy solutions to lower emissions. This movement is a key driver in the development of hydrogen-focussed projects in Western Australia. One of Australia’s first commercial-scale renewable hydrogen facilities will soon commence operations at the Warradarge Wind Farm in WA’s Mid-West.
The opening of this facility appears to be just the beginning of a new and exciting future for renewable gas in WA. Gas networks around Australia are experimenting with blending green hydrogen into the existing networks to reduce carbon emissions with the long-term goal of de-carbonising the gas networks completely.