Alan Armstrong, President and CEO of Williams Companies, the American energy infrastructure enterprise operating nearly 50,000 - km of pipelines in the United States, said during a Financial Times interview that natural gas, a fossil fuel, is key to bringing about the planet's clean energy future and warding off the worst effects of climate change.
As the Times relates, this is because natural gas is low cost, low carbon and highly reliable — characteristics that Armstrong refers to as the “three pillars” of the future of energy. And the U.S. Energy Information Administration finds that natural gas can immediately replace higher-carbon and higher-cost fuels with a carbon footprint that's almost 50 percent smaller than coal. “We need to stay focused on future opportunities, but we can't ignore these immediate opportunities for carbon reduction that are right here in front of us today,” Armstrong said.
To demonstrate how earnest Armstrong is taking warming climate temperatures around the globe, Williams announced a climate commitment aligned with the Paris Agreement with the target of reducing emissions below 2005 levels by 2030.
This makes Williams the first midstream company in the U.S. to do so. By taking steps to address and repair methane leaks (methane being one of the key greenhouse gases), pushing to convert coal to natural gas, enhancing the use of hydrogen and investing in renewables — including solar energy installations at its facilities — Williams is determined to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.
In addition, as policies meant to increase the use of electricity in cars and heavy industry also increase the load on the grid, more pipelines will be needed to feed fuel to gas-fired generators that can back up intermittent renewable energy sources, like wind and solar.