Why is natural gas non renewable?

Natural gas is non renewable because it is made using finite resources. A renewable resource is one that naturally replenishes and can continue to be used. Here are the reasons why natural gas is non renewable resource. 

What is natural gas?

Natural gas is a flammable gas. It is found underground near oil reserves and it contains methane gas and other hydrocarbons (a compound of hydrogen and carbon). It is used as fuel for heating and cooling or cooking in households across the world. 

The top five producers of natural gas are the United States, Russia, Iran, China and Qatar (Investing News). The United States has also become the biggest exporter of natural gas since the war in Ukraine began. This is despite the fact that the US has limited reserves. Russia and the Middle East have the largest reserves of natural gas. 

why is natural gas non renewable?
why is natural gas non renewable?

Is natural gas renewable or non renewable?

A renewable resource is one that will not run out. Natural gas is a finite resource, therefore it could potentially run out. So typical natural gas is non renewable.

Once the largest reserves of natural gas in the Middle East or Russia are depleted, new sources of natural gas would need to be found. The largest reserves of natural gas are deep in the earth. This means that there are limited places in the earth where suitable large reserves could be found and extracted. 

Natural gas does occur at different levels but usually in smaller amounts. Shale deposits (accessed using the disputed fracking method), tight gas (which is acidized) and coalbed methane (collected at the same time as coal is mined) are other types of natural gas (National Geographic). Methane hydrates in ocean beds are a potential source of natural gas. 

Confusingly, biogas which is also a type of natural gas, is renewable. Biogas is produced through the anaerobic digestion of waste matter. Anaerobic digestion produces methane, but it has less methane than typical natural gas. 

Why is natural gas non renewable?

Natural gas is non renewable because it will run out. If it runs out, it would take millions of years to produce a new source. Natural gas is formed from the decomposition of plants and animals (fossils). The fossils are compressed underground, where temperatures are high. Their carbon bonds break down and they produce a type of methane (natural gas). Methane is made of carbon and hydrogen. 

Natural gas is therefore a fossil fuel like coal and oil. Fossil fuels, once burned to create energy, release high amounts of carbon into the atmosphere. This contributes to climate change. Burning fossil fuels releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This greenhouse gas traps heat in the atmosphere and causes global warming. So not only is natural gas not renewable, it is also bad for the environment. 

What are the alternatives to natural gas?

Renewable energy sources that are low carbon or zero carbon are the preferred alternative to fossil fuels like natural gas. Clean energy like hydropower, wind power or solar power is truly renewable because it will not run out (even if in theory the sun could expire). 

So, why is natural gas non renewable?

The answer to the question “why is natural gas is non renewable?” depends on which type of natural gas you mean. Natural gas produced from fossil fuels is non renewable because these are limited sources. The source of natural gas, a fossil fuel, is underground reserves. These reserves are formed after many millennia and would not be easy to recreate or replenish. Biogas, on the other hand, is renewable. But it is less efficient.