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Refined natural gas is primary or secondary energy?

Reza Hosseini's picture
Economic, Financial & Business Analyst | Energy Sector, Energy Development Company

Energy economics, business analyst and result-oriented manager with more than 15 years’ experience in planning and technical and economic evaluation of oil, gas, power and some other...

  • Member since 2019
  • 9 items added with 9,480 views
  • Mar 15, 2023


In your opinion, refined natural gas is primary or secondary energy?

Thank you

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So many struggle with primary energy versus.....

With few alternatives to fossil fuel, if you are an oil, gas or coal company, primary energy describes the product you sell. The interesting wrinkle here is the world economy does not run on primary energy, it runs on final energy. That is the energy we consume to light and heat our buildings, run our vehicles and power our industries. The big difference between primary energy and final energy is waste heat, about a third of primary energy is lost BEFORE it can do anything useful. The transition is about this final delivery of energy or in most cases Electricity and where renewables really kick in. The energy transition will be in phases, the present primary focus of fossil fuel, our primary energy sources will decline but unlikely ever to be totally eradicated. Natural Gas is a present way to deliver what we are set up to generate, from primary sources but as renewables gain the relationship in price, volumes, choices of energy sources will all progressively change. We are progressing on a steep experience curve and we need to consider the levelized cost of electricity (final consumption point or where energy is useful), where it does something. Natural gas is simply replacing other dirtier fossil fuels like coal or oil that has the higher carbonization profile We are progressing down this pathway of decarbonization and the more we can accelerate this, and replace natural gas where we can the better. There is a point where it can become secondary in the generation of energy, as a stand-by or the final energy needed to get a temperature up to a point needed for steel for example but it will remain in the energy mix as Electricity cannot get the temperatures up to the point needed for making steel or cement without some other 2primary" energy sources. So primary is where we need to rely on fossil fuels but it can become secondary when we make the change and renewables and electricity become the primary, then it changes to secondary as the supporting (but essential) energy source due to its high-temperature values. Ideally, we need to move all power generation by fossil fuels more as dispatchable backups, our secondary energy source. Long answer to a short question. My inital reply was "it depends".

Reza Hosseini's picture
Reza Hosseini on Mar 18, 2023

Thanks you for your response.
I think that since gasoline and diesel are among secondary energies, refined natural gas can also be considered secondary energy.

Hi Reza,

By primary energy, do you mean base-load generation, while secondary energy refers to units for ancillary or essential services? If so, I think the answer is yes - that is, both. The participation of refined natural gas generation depends on the economics and the regulatory policy that feeds the decision making. If pollution policy requirements are met and the fuel costs are competitive, then primary and/or secondary energy can make sense. If it is expensive, it may be targeted more for peak period reserves and reliability services. All of these factors are influenced by location and operational jurisdiction.

Reza Hosseini's picture
Reza Hosseini on Mar 18, 2023

Thanks you for your response.
I think that since gasoline and diesel are among secondary energies, refined natural gas can also be considered secondary energy.

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