An energy game-changer

Date posted: February 3, 2012

Energy will continue to be an issue in both the country and the world in coming decades. Is there some energy source or technology on the horizon that might quickly change the energy market? N.C. State University economist Mike Walden says yes — and it’s natural gas.

“What people in the energy area … are really buzzing about is natural gas. We have seen an explosion, no pun intended, of natural gas supplies here in the U.S. Now some of that’s carried controversy about ways that we’re getting that natural gas regarding, for example, fracking.

“But natural gas supplies here are very, very abundant. And mainly what natural gas is being used for today is heating and some electricity generation. What energy experts say could be the big game-changer down the road would be if we could figure out a way to use natural gas to fuel our vehicles. So that would be a transportation fuel. If we could do that, and we could wean ourselves off of gasoline, which is obviously derived from oil, a lot of it imported, that would be a major impact on the economy. There are a lot of issues here, not only related to obviously obtaining the natural gas in the first place but appropriate engines or batteries, the range that you could get — the mileage you’d get on a natural gas supply in your car — as well as we’d need a whole new distribution system, in essence to take the place of gasoline stations we have now.

“But this is something to keep our eyes on. This could be the big mover and shaker down the road for our energy market.”

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