Natural gas has a high heat of combustion and energy efficiency, along with low CO2 emissions. It is extremely flexible in use and complements renewable energies very well. Consumers are not required to store it. All of these qualities are boosting natural gas usage.
The residential and tertiary market
- In France and Europe, natural gas is one of the main forms of energy used by individuals, local authorities and businesses for heating, air conditioning, hot water and cooking.
- Restaurant owners, caterers and bakers use natural gas-fired ovens. A number of horticulturists and market gardeners use it to heat their greenhouses.
- Natural gas is an excellent complement to the solar equipment used to produce hot water. It also combines very well with the biomass used in large boiler rooms.
The industrial market
- From chemicals to petrochemicals, metallurgy, ceramics, glass-making, cement works, brickyards, paper-making, agribusiness and textiles, many sectors of industry use natural gas to heat, cook and dry.
- Natural gas is also a raw material used for example in the manufacture of fertiliser, plastics and fuel additives.
- Natural gas-fired electrical power stations allow electricity production to be very rapidly adjusted to meet demand during peak periods and as a complement to wind and solar power, production of which is intermittent. This method of generation is experiencing strong growth, boosted by CO2 emission reduction targets: electricity production could represent 40% of primary consumption of gas in Europe in 2030.
- This is because gas-fired power stations emit half as much CO2 as the most advanced coal-fired power stations and are cheaper to build and run. Gas combined-cycle power stations, which combine a gas turbine and a steam turbine, further improve these performances: their energy efficiency tops 50%, compared with 40% for standard gas-fired power stations.