What is natural gas?

Natural gas is a vital source of energy on the global fuel market. Natural gas is one of the most used fuel sources the world over, so constitutes a significant sector of the global energy production market. Natural gas is a hydrocarbon fuel that is formed from natural matter (the remains of plants and animals) over millions or billions of years. As natural gas is a very popular fuel source for bringing energy to homes across the world, it’s worth looking at in detail.

What actually is natural gas?

Natural gas is a finite, non-renewable energy source as it takes millions or billions of years to form on Earth. Because natural gas is a non-renewable fuel, the price of natural gas will steadily increase as deposits of it around the world are used up.

The production and origin of natural gas

Natural gas has “natural” in its name as it occurs naturally in the ground in various areas across the world. It is formed from the remains of plants and animals, natural materials, over many, many years.

Natural gas, like other hydrocarbon fuels, is a fossil fuel. Once it is extracted from the ground, natural gas is used for electricity, heating and to fuel global industry. As natural gas is a fossil fuel, it does have a negative impact on the environment when it is used as an energy source.

The composition of natural gas as a fuel source

Natural gas is mostly composed of methane but also contains propane, nitrogen and ethane.

Natural gas is odourless in its natural state, so it has an artificial scent added to help consumers to detect leaks or faults in their home gas installation. This avoids dangerous gas leaks that can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.

Is natural gas a clean energy option or does it damage the environment?

The relative advantages and disadvantages of natural gas and its effects on the environment are frequently debated.

While natural gas is a cleaner fossil fuel than energy sources such as coal or petroleum, natural gas still has a negative impact on the climate. It’s vital to keep our use of natural gas to a minimum in order to reduce our carbon footprint.

Of course, this is the best choice for reducing our carbon emissions, but it’s also vital for keeping our natural gas bills to a minimum.

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The different types of natural gas

There are two types of natural gas: wet and dry.

Wet natural gas and dry natural gas

Whether natural gas is wet or dry depends on where it forms and where it is deposited. However, all types of natural gas are extracted from the ground in the same way.

Dry natural gas: produced from plant remains, stone, sand and other organic matter. Rising temperatures, via a process of millions or billions of years, then turned these remains into dry natural gas.

Wet natural gas: comes from marine algae debris and plankton. This debris first turns into bitumen, then oil. High temperatures and high pressures form this wet natural gas.

“Town gas” and natural gas

Before the 1960s, “town gas” was the gas fuel supplied to homes in the UK. This type of gas energy was produced by burning coal, producing gas fuel that was not a very safe fuel to use.

When natural gas reserves were discovered in the North Sea in the middle of the 1900s, the switch was made from “town gas” to natural gas. This new gas fuel is safer, cleaner and greener in comparison and is still used today.

The natural gas market in the UK

There are many natural gas suppliers that make up the UK market. There are multiple well established natural gas supply companies that still dominate the market to a large extent, but new natural gas suppliers are consistently emerging.

The customer chooses: the natural gas market in the UK

If you choose natural gas energy for your home, you can compare gas supply companies easily online. This affects prices, as natural gas suppliers are in direct competition to appeal to customers via offering a low price for natural gas supply.

This makes the prices of natural gas a major determining force in consumers’ choice of natural gas supplier. However, as we’ve seen, the price of natural gas is steadily increasing as it is a finite energy source.

That said, natural gas does remain a relatively affordable option in comparison with other energy options. While it is a comparably cheaper option that represents a fairly clean energy source, it by no means avoids damaging the environment.

Now, many natural gas companies help you to reduce and regulate your use of natural gas in order to reduce your carbon footprint. These natural gas suppliers use data from smart gas meter readings to accurately record your use of natural gas and help you make greener choices in terms of your energy use.

Gas market trends

While price is an important factor in consumers’ choice of gas supply, we are becoming increasingly conscientious about our use of natural gas for energy. It is, ultimately, a fossil fuel, so the use of natural gas contributes to your carbon footprint.

While global production of natural gas will not tail off any time soon, it’s vital that we as consumers make clean, green choices with our energy use. Renewable energy sources - such as solar energy and wind energy - are the best choice for reducing our carbon footprint.

Data shows that reducing our energy use can have a positive impact on the climate around the world. As such, it’s vital that if we do use natural gas, we reduce our use of natural gas as much as possible. Keep an eye on your natural gas meter in order to regulate your consumption!