Natural gas burns cleaner than other fossil fuels, and is much cheaper. It could certainly help reduce carbon emissions in the short term. In fact many people are lobbying for natural gas powered vehicles as the future of clean (well, cleaner) transport that reduces dependence on foreign oil. President Obama recently gave a speech in Las Vegas, where he pitched some new energy policies such as; giving tax breaks to firms who buy natural gas-powered trucks.
Very admirable! Yes natural gas-powered vehicles will obviously reduce consumption of crude oil, and due to the cleaner nature of the fuel it will also reduce carbon emissions….but is it the most efficient use of natural gas?
Not according to a 2009 MIT study entitled “The Future of Natural Gas”, which predicted that natural gas would be better suited for long-haul trucks and the electricity sector. The report stated that electric utilities could rapidly cut carbon emissions by up to 22 percent without major capital investments, just by switching from coal to natural-gas. Electric Vehicles (EVs) could then use this cleaner electricity in a much more efficient way than gas-powered vehicles, because the combustion engines in cars and trucks waste more energy than the modern-day combined-cycle gas turbines that produce electricity.
However EVs have their own problems. They are expensive to produce and very hard to scale up. They would also require a new and expensive charging infrastructure in place of the current network of petrol stations.
So, another great option for reducing oil consumption is to shift the majority of bulk transport from trucks to rail. Analysts estimate that America could reduce its oil consumption by 2.5 million barrels by using rail-based goods transport. The only problem is that this idea does not have the support of marketing gurus and expert manipulators of the media, like EV or natural gas-powered vehicles, and so gets very little attention.
By. James Burgess of Oilprice.com