Innovating for a Cleaner World

  • Adam Kay
  • On Earth Day, like every other day, the natural gas industry is doing its part to help our nation achieve its energy and environmental goals. Our industry is committed to advancing innovation and technology to both better serve customers and benefit the environment. The innovative work being done today builds on decades of efforts to lower emissions and increase efficiency while continuing to provide the safe, reliable and affordable energy that customers rely on for their daily lives.

    The progress that the industry has already made and continues to make is worth noting. Emissions from the natural gas distribution system have declined by 69 percent since 1990 – in large part because the mileage of pipes made from more modern materials tripled during the same period. Innovations in materials science, and a focused drive to implement them into the services that natural gas utilities provide to customers, have made the natural gas distribution system cleaner and more efficient. And today, as little as .1 percent of the natural gas delivered nationwide is emitted from local distribution systems. That work continues, with natural gas utilities spending $32 billion per year on enhancing the safety of natural gas distribution and transmission systems.

    This work does not stop at the meter. Natural gas utilities spend $4.3 million dollars per day on programs to help customers increase their home’s energy efficiency. Whether they’re helping customers access more efficient appliances or weatherizing their homes, these investments have driven down carbon emissions from the average natural gas home by 1.2 percent per year, a trend which continues today. With the installation of condensing natural gas space and water heaters, natural gas homes can reach 11% lower emissions this year compared to the use of many air-source heat pumps. The use of natural gas heat pumps can further lower emissions by 22% compared to the cold climate heat pump configuration. All of this saves customers money while protecting the environment.

    The natural gas distribution system is an extremely efficient method of delivering energy. Not only is it the safest way to deliver energy – it’s also 92 percent efficient at delivering energy to customers. In comparison, the electrical distribution system is 38 percent efficient. That’s one reason why today, carbon dioxide emissions from residences using natural gas for space heating, water heating, cooking, and clothes drying are about 22% lower than those attributable to an all-electric home.

    New technologies are helping to propel progress forward. Natural gas utilities are investing $125 million to advance low- and zero-carbon energy technologies and reduce emissions. Carbon-neutral fuels like renewable natural gas and numerous types of carbon-neutral hydrogen are giving natural gas utilities an ever-increasing array of tools for decarbonization.

    Our commitment is an ongoing one. The American Gas Association unveiled Climate Change Commitments in 2020 aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions through smart innovation, new and modernized infrastructure, and advanced technologies that maintain reliable, resilient, and affordable energy service choices for consumers. To read our full Climate Change Commitment, click here.

    The natural gas industry is working to advance the delivery of energy to meet our nation’s energy and environment goals – this Earth Day, and every day.