Direct-Use of Natural Gas

Natural gas is an efficient, abundant, clean, affordable and domestically produced energy resource, and the increased direct-use of natural gas in homes and businesses will improve our nation’s energy efficiency and helping to bring about a cleaner environment.  The term “direct-use” refers to using natural gas directly in residential and commercial applications rather than burning it as a generation fuel for electricity.

However, the efficiency of natural gas is not being fully recognized due to the current use of site-based energy analysis, which solely measures energy used by individual appliances. This fails to account for the energy lost during the extraction, production, conversion, generation, transmission, distribution and delivery of energy to the outlet or burner tip.

Electricity, for example, loses more than 70 percent of its usable energy in its journey from the mine, solar panel, wellhead or wind turbine to its final destination at the electric outlet.  Natural gas only loses about 10 percent of its usable energy from wellhead to burner tip.

Ignoring these energy losses means ignoring the reduction in energy costs, consumption, and emissions that the direct-use of natural gas can bring to American consumers. A study by the Gas Technology Institute in 2009 identified the following benefits that could be achieved by 2030 if consumer education and research and development were combined with subsidies to encourage the direct-use of natural gas:

  • 1.9 Quads energy savings per year
  • 96 million metric tons CO2 emission reduction per year
  • U.S. $213 billion cumulative consumer savings
  • 200,000 GWh electricity savings per year
  • 50 GW cumulative power generation capacity additions avoided, with avoided capital expenditures of $110 billion at $2,200/kW.

Learn more about the efficiency of the direct-use of natural gas in this video.

APGA’s Position

We are increasingly concerned that national policies have been moving the market towards an all-electric society.  This has created our current huge demand for centralized power plants, and failed to recognize the environmental and economic benefits of natural gas.

APGA believes that the direct-use of natural gas, as an abundant, affordable and highly-efficient fuel source, must play a critical role as a fuel and one that is a complementary component of renewable energy technologies in new and existing buildings.

How do we promote the direct-use of natural gas?

As the nation continues to develop a cohesive energy policy, the use of the simple site-based energy analysis essentially disregards the facts of energy use. A primary, or source-based, energy analysis that takes energy loses from production to application into account should be utilized to generate energy efficiency ratings and policy.

One of the best ways to maximize the potential environmental and consumer benefits of natural gas is to support and strengthen the promotion of technologies such as natural gas appliances, small scale combined heat and power, and microgrids.

When we consider the impact of these technologies with the fact that natural gas is an efficient, abundant, clean, affordable and domestically produced energy resource, it becomes clear that the direct-use of natural gas is part of the solution for improving our nation’s energy efficiency and encouraging a cleaner environment. 

Neil Leslie, P.E., Validation of Direct Natural Gas Use to Reduce CO2 Emissions, June 26, 2009, Gas Technology Institute.