In parts of the Arabian Peninsula, West Asia, North Africa, and elsewhere, virtually all of the electricity is generated by fossil fuels. Natural gas is a fossil fuel, which is a hydrocarbon gas mixture of methane, ethane, propane, butane, and pentane, and smaller quantities of carbon dioxide, nitrogen, hydrogen sulfide, and helium. The composition of natural gas can differ depending on the field they are produced. It is a non-renewable resource, although it does produce less carbon dioxide emissions than burning either coal or oil. Natural gas ranks third behind oil and coal as a global energy source, and accounts for 21% of primary energy needs worldwide. The biggest use of natural gas, up to 40%, is in production of power or electricity. The other uses are in residential and commercial sectors for heating, or as raw material for fertilizers, plastic, and synthetic fabrics.
Global Trends In Natural Gas Use
Production of electricity from natural gas globally, as a percentage of total, rose from 10% in 1971 and peaked at 22% in 2010. Turkmenistan, Qatar and Bahrain generate virtually 100% of their electricity from natural gas. Additionally ten countries, Trinidad and Tobago, Brunei, the United Arab Emirates, Belarus, Oman, Tunisia, Azerbaijan, Algeria, Moldova and Singapore generate 91-99.6%, and Bangladesh and Nigeria more than 80% of their electricity from natural gas. Not surprisingly, nearly of these countries happen to be producers of natural gas. Many even have large reserves of not only natural gas, but various forms of petrochemicals. Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Turkmenistan, Qatar, Bahrain, Trinidad, Brunei, Azerbaijan, Algeria are also exporters of natural gas and it is a major contributor to their economy.
Belarus and Bangladesh have only small reserves of gas, and have to depend on imports. Belarus imports gas enough to supply 90% of its energy needs from Russia. Moldova and Singapore have exhausted their reserves and are dependent on others for their natural gas supply. Singapore gets its supply from Indonesia and Malaysia. The countries which do not get 100% of their electricity from natural gas use other sources. Trinidad, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Brunei, Bangladesh, Azerbaijan, Singapore, Nigeria, Algeria use coal. Hydro power is used by Moldova, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Singapore and Belarus. Only the United Arab Emirates and Belarus use nuclear power, and only Bangladesh and Singapore use coal. The increased use of renewable energy is being tried by Oman, Brunei, Bangladesh, Moldova, Singapore and Tunisia. The United Arab Emirates, which has one of the world's highest per capita consumption levels of energy due to its rapid economic development, is investing in large-scale, environmental friendly energy generation.
Use for residential, industrial, commercial services, and sometimes agriculture are the main uses of electricity. In some countries like Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, the biggest uses are industry, while in Singapore it is commercial services and then industry, and in Turkmenistan it is agriculture and forestry. In most other countries however, residential use of electricity ranks the highest as in Brunei, Bangladesh, or Algeria. Direct use of oil for transportation and industrial use of solar power by individuals also occurs. Bangladesh, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, and Belarus also depend on biomass as their primary energy source. In fact, 90% of people in Bangladesh concentrated in the rural areas cook with biomass like wood, dried leaves, crop residues from rice and jute, and cow dung.
Supply and Price of Natural Gas
Natural gas is important to all of the major world economies as it is a major source of power. Its sources, however, are concentrated in certain regions of the world. Supply can be an issue, as natural gas needs long pipelines often crossing several countries, and so has lead to many major conflicts. As natural gas has many uses, its price volatility also has far reaching effects at every level of the economic spectrum. Furthermore, natural gas does still contribute to greenhouse emissions that accelerate climate change due to global warming, and certain extraction methods, such as fracking, may be harmful to both humans and wildlife.