Bill Clough, CEO of CUI Global, spoke to us at Bold Business. Clough is an innovator in the energy industry, searching for ways to make the energy business more efficient. Clough believes that natural gas is going to be the strongest player in the energy industry for some time to come, because it is clean and abundant.
Clough’s company CUI recently signed agreements in both Italy and France, where renewable and green energy are undergoing rapid development. He notes that the European nations are innovating on numerous fronts, with investment in biomethane and hydrogen storage, in addition to solar and wind. These newer resources may bear fruit in time, but for the next generation at least, fossil fuels are going to be an essential part of the energy mix. And of these, natural gas is the obvious candidate to be the leader.
He is not alone in his estimate either. Forbes has discussed the merits of natural gas as have dozens of other journals and publications. Natural gas is far cleaner and more efficient than coal. Of energy plants shut down in the past several years, 80% of them were coal-fired plants. They are being replaced by natural gas-fired plants.
In addition, from the perspective of the United States, natural gas is cheap and abundant. Almost all the natural gas consumed in the United States is produced within the country, there is some importation of natural gas from Canada, but it is almost precisely balanced out by exports of natural gas to Mexico. Contrast this to the fact that almost a quarter of our oil usage is still imported almost fifty years after the Oil Crisis and creating a perpetual trade imbalance.
And with the development of efficient liquefied natural gas shipping facilities, experts anticipate that over the next decade up to 20% of the natural gas produced in the United States may be exported. The U.S. is already the largest producer of natural gas in the world, having recently surpassed Russia. It may in time become the largest exporters a well.
Natural gas currently provides 29% of the energy in the United States. It also used to generate 33% of our electricity. Yet natural gas use is poised to grow by 25% over the next 25 years, according to the U.S. Energy Information Association. As mentioned, natural gas is often the choice to replace coal-fired electric plants. In addition, natural gas is going to be used increasingly in clean manufacturing and the chemical industries.
While Europe is moving forward quickly on a variety of intriguing green energy sources, such as biomethane, it will be decades before these alternatives can make a large contribution to the global energy picture. In the interim, natural gas is plentiful, efficient, and cleaner than other fossil fuels.