Have you ever wondered what life would be like without energy? It’s one of those things you don’t think twice about until you’re without it. And thanks to the crazy weather we’ve had in New York over the last year, including widespread power outages, I’ve been able to experience it firsthand several times. Considering our reliance on everyday essentials like cars, phones and computers, it’s a little scary to imagine a world without the energy to power these lifelines.
And now that modern energy applications are going global, the world needs to find more energy to keep up. Without new sources to rely on, natural gas has become a go-to solution. It’s one of the most appealing of the traditional energy sources and I believe that it’s going to open the door to a wealth of investment opportunities.
For one thing, natural gas is now the fuel of choice to generate electricity because it’s so much cleaner than coal and doesn’t have the safety stigma of nuclear power. Natural gas-fired electricity generation is expected to make up 80% of all additional capacity that is added between now and 2035.
As you would expect, alternative uses for natural gas are also being developed to take advantage of all this potential energy, especially in transportation. We won’t see a bunch of natural gas passenger vehicles on the road anytime soon — the manufacturers aren’t ready, and there is a lack of storage and distribution infrastructure — but there is tremendous potential in commercial vehicle fleets. One firm, Pike Research, estimates that the total number of natural gas vehicles worldwide will grow nearly 70% from 1.9 million units in 2010 to 3.2 million in 2016.
However, the way to get natural gas has become quite the controversial topic. The process is called hydraulic fracturing (or “fracking”) and involves creating fractures in rocks and rock formations by injecting fluid into cracks to force them further open. Many folks have raised health and environmental concerns over the fluids used, and I am right there with them. For example, there appears to be some evidence that groundwater (drinking water) can become contaminated from the solutions used in fracking. Some scientists have also tried to link fracking as a contributing factor in some of the recent minor earthquakes in the United States.
These concerns are why I prefer to invest in companies that have found a way to make the fracking process safer, without the environmental or health hazards.
One of my favorite picks is Halliburton (NYSE:HAL), which is one of the largest companies providing equipment and technology that makes fracking possible. It is an oil and gas exploration company that finds new fields and makes the most of their existing properties. But the best part is that HAL has created “green” technologies that could reduce or even eliminate some of the big controversies surrounding the fracking process.
One “green” innovation HAL created is the “CleanSuite” Technologies, through which the company is endeavoring to make fracking safer. Among the products is the CleanStim Formulation – the cocktail used in the fracking process. According to the company, it uses the same acids and enzymes present in fruits and vegetables, making it one of the most environmentally safe fracture solutions. Even environmental groups have given the company credit for its efforts to make the process safer and more environmentally friendly.
I truly believe that natural gas is the energy of the future, and now’s the time to take advantage of the companies, like Halliburton, that are working to harvest natural gas in the safest way possible.