US agency: natural gas projected to remain primary fuel for industry


According to the annual report from the Energy Information Agency (EIA), natural gas will see a 40% increase in consumption by the US industrial sector by 2050. In one scenario projected by the report, gas use will reach its previous peak set in the early 1970s by 2020.

Two thirds of the natural gas used by the industrial sector in the US went to heat or power applications, for industrial processes like furnaces or onsite power generation. Industries like bulk chemicals, food and glass used natural gas for at least 40% of their heat or power needs in 2017.

Bulk chemicals is the largest consumer in the industrial industries, using the equivalent of 3 trillion cubic feet (over 84 billion cubic meters) to produce organic chemicals, including petrochemicals, as well as resins, inorganic chemicals and agricultural chemicals like fertiliser.

Depending on the price of oil and other energy technologies, growth in the bulk chemicals sector’s use of natural gas is expected to out-pace the industry average of 40%, it being projected to consume 51% more gas in 2050 than it did in 2017.

The EIA expects industry to continue to use natural gas in about the same proportions due to the cost of changing fuels: “Industrial fuel switching often involves changing manufacturing processes, which requires substantial capital investment in new equipment.”

See the EIA’s full Annual Energy Outlook 2018 here.