Published August 2006
Natural gas is rapidly becoming a strategic fuel of geopolitical importance. Gas has grown from a marginal fuel, consumed in regionally disconnected markets, to a fuel that is now being transported from remote sites across great distances. Increasingly, natural gas is the fuel of choice for consumers seeking its relatively low environmental impact, especially for electric power generation. For example, the International Energy Agency predicts that the electric power sector will account for 60% of the increase in future gas demand. As a result, world gas consumption is projected to more than double over the next three decades, rising from 23% to 28% of world total primary energy demand by 2030, and surpassing coal as the world’s number two energy source. Eventually, gas may even overtake oil’s number one position as a primary energy source in many large industrialized economies.
The growing importance of natural gas supply from remote regions to the world’s modern economies will force new thinking about natural gas based energy supply and energy security. This thinking will need to be backed with technology improvements, reduced logistics costs, and international co-operation to meet global long term demand for natural gas.
In this review, we discuss the potential use of natural gas hydrates as an energy resource, followed by an evaluation of the potential for use of a 780 mm scf/yr capacity natural gas hydrates storage facility to supply distributed power generation and small scale chemical manufacturing plants with natural gas supply during short term pipeline supply disruptions. Results from this study show that the technology and conceptual economics for the potential use of manufactured natural gas hydrates as a new storage option for reliable natural gas supply is competitively viable in places where natural gas pipeline infrastructure exists for distributed consumption.