Three Ways Natural Gas Will Bolster Decarbonization Efforts

In the global effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, natural gas has emerged as an important but underappreciated energy source to help transition to a lower carbon world. Combining affordability, versatility, and environmental sustainability, natural gas is a valuable resource in the race toward decarbonization.


At Gas South, we recognize the lasting impact natural gas providers can have as a purveyor of and partner to renewable energy sources. We have also made innovative investments in green energy. Here are three ways natural gas will help mitigate carbon production and prepare us for a greener future.

Fuel Switching

Natural gas, the second-most used power source globally, has fueled generation after generation of industrial and technological advances. Major corporations are increasingly finding value in switching over to natural gas. Fuel switching could include swapping out coal for natural gas in power generation, using natural gas for residential and commercial heating rather than oil or non-renewable electricity, or employing natural gas for transportation and industrial use.

Natural gas surpasses its peers in terms of affordability, flexibility, and cleanliness. Compared to other traditional energy sources, it has a lower carbon footprint, making it an ideal partner in reducing reliance on higher-emitting fossil fuels without sacrificing energy output. As organizations and individuals rely less on oil and coal, natural gas can quickly fill in energy gaps without compromising effectiveness.

Public demand for natural gas is also on the rise. A global survey by Pew Research Center reported that 69% of surveyed adults are in favor of natural gas expansion.

Greening Up the Natural Gas Supply Chain

The natural gas industry is actively decarbonizing itself through greater investment in renewable natural gas (RNG), or natural gas derived from the decomposition of organic waste material. RNG can significantly reduce the environmental footprint of natural gas and some feedstocks can achieve a negative carbon intensity due to the avoidance of concentrated methane (a highly potent greenhouse gas) being released into the atmosphere.

Gas South, for instance, has launched FlexRNG, which is a blend of RNG’s environmental attributes, and verified carbon offsets generated by a range of carbon-reducing projects. We are on the front-end of helping our industrial customers minimize their carbon footprints and align with their sustainability strategies and emissions reduction targets. While renewable natural gas alone can be cost-prohibitive, the inclusion of verified carbon offsets both makes the product more accessible and ensures that the remaining emissions that are not being reduced through RNG are neutralized.

RNG buy-in is increasing rapidly. North American RNG operators have brought 176 new RNG-producing facilities online since 2020 as opposed to the 31 facilities seen back in 2011, according to the Coalition for Renewable Natural Gas (RNG Coalition), an industry trade group.

Pairing Up with Renewables

Natural gas acts as a worthy complement to renewables due to its high dispatchability to quickly meet shifts in demand, and plug in where solar and wind energy fall short due to unpredictable fluctuations in power production. Wind power can be inconsistent depending on the weather, and the ability for wind to power systems across state lines is hampered by piecemeal progress in energy storage technology and significant interconnection queues. In the same way, solar energy is only at its strongest on clear, sunny days, and the energy it generates isn’t easily stored.

Factors like cost and uncertain reliability signal the transition will be a slow and steady process that will require supplementation by denser energy sources—likely for decades to come. The infrastructure needed to convert to renewable systems, from transmission lines that carry electricity across long distances to high-capacity batteries that can store energy for extended periods, will take time to establish. If demand for electricity, which is expected to grow an average of 3% over the next three years, according to the International Energy Agency’s (IEA’s) Electricity Market Report 2023, continues to outpace expansion in renewable sectors such as wind and solar, traditional energy fuels will need to step in to help manage the swell for the foreseeable future.

Into the Future

It stands that natural gas has played and will continue to play a critical role in energy production, and the positive impact of natural gas expansion is measurable. According to a 2019 IEA report, the switch from coal to gas has prevented approximately 500 million tons of CO 2 from entering the atmosphere since 2010—equivalent to adding 200 million electric-powered, zero-carbon vehicles on the road during the same nine-year period.

By replacing oil and coal in energy generation, tapping into renewable natural gas, and deploying the best available production and transmission technologies, natural gas is well-positioned to continue supporting decarbonization efforts. The success of these efforts is the strongest proof point that natural gas will remain a part of the energy conversation as we collectively work to mitigate carbon production.

Kevin Greiner is president and CEO of Gas South, a natural gas marketer serving more than 450,000 customers in 14 states. He has more than 20 years of experience as a leader in the energy sector.

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