Natural Gas Brings New Energy to Industry


Energy powers development and growth across the globe. But even as the world gets increasingly industrialised, warning bells are beginning to toll with alarming frequency. The adverse impact of oil-gobbling industries on the earth’s resources and her environment has created the fear that doomsday will arrive sooner rather than later.
The substitution of natural gas for fossil fuels in industry is seen by many as a step forward in saving our planet for future generations. This environmentally sound move would also bring in considerable economic benefits.
Industrial Uses of Natural Gas: Natural gas has multiple applications across the industrial spectrum. In fact, in countries like the US, industry is the largest consumer of natural gas with fertilizers, power and petrochemicals ranked among the biggest users. Other industry where natural gas is consumed includes paper and pulp, plastic, food processing, chemicals and metals. In fact, natural gas can be innovatively used in any industry that requires heating, cooling and cooking.
India follows the global trend with fertilisers and petrochemicals using a lion’s share of the country’s natural gas resources. As far as the industrial gas demand is concerned, in 2006, iron & steel and heavy engineering accounted for 19 and 12 per cent. Ceramic & glass, textiles, chemicals, cement, metals and minerals accounted for 10 percent, two percent, nine percent, one percent and three percent respectively.
According to a 2010 report by the Organisation of Economic Co-operation & Development (OECD) and the International Energy Agency (IEA), the demand structure indicates that the potential market for industrial use of natural gas in India is huge. However, availability – and thus price – is a problem. The report states, “Industrial consumers that are connected to gas supply infrastructures (and thus have access to gas) could potentially emerge as major consumers of natural gas in the future.” This is where the government’s policy of encouraging natural gas projects like the Kerala Gail Gas Limited plays an active role in ensuring access to cheap and clean fuel for industry.
Benefits of Using Natural Gas in Industry: The industrial landscape is often hidden in a haze of polluting emissions. The use of natural gas can help clear this haze. Natural gas fired power plants as well as industrial applications will result in fewer emissions, lower smog formation, less acid rain and reduced sludge. Industrial boilers run on natural gas, or electricity generated from natural gas has low levels of carbon dioxide and virtually no sulphur dioxide and mercury. Particulate emissions are thus low. Natural gas also releases very insignificant levels of nitrogen oxide.
Therefore, it does not contribute to smog formation. Acid rain, which damages crops and is a health hazard, occurs when sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide combine with water vapour in the atmosphere. Since natural gas has no sulphur dioxide and emits 80 per cent less nitrogen oxide as compared to fossil fuels, there is little danger of acid rain.
Use of Natural Gas in Kerala Industry: The Gail pipeline project, currently underway, will lay the foundation of a natural gas infrastructure that can be used by Kerala industry. Stretching across the districts of Ernakulam, Thrissur, Palakkad, Malappuram, Kozhikode, Kannur, Alappuzha (Kayamkulam) and Kasargode, it is expected to bring about an impetus to the state’s policy of sustained and green industrial development. An important aspect of the project is the sub-sea pipeline to be laid by Gail from the Petronet LNG terminal at Vypeen to the National Thermal Power Corporation Plant in Kayamkulam. This will help NTPC convert its fuel base from naptha to LNG, bringing about a substantial improvement in capacity utilisation. The end result will be the supply of cheaper power for the people of Kerala.
In today’s world of oil spills and melting ice caps, the buzzword is environment-friendly, sustainable industrial growth. Given its advantages, natural gas is widely regarded as the ideal solution.