As the energy industry around Australia, and indeed the world, grapples with how we realistically manage the transition to more renewable energy sources, the role of gas as a transition fuel is becoming increasingly clear.
The global conversation around energy sources and consumption in recent years has been clear: we are being called upon to facilitate cleaner, greener options and create a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
But how do we achieve this and satisfy a growing appetite for energy?
In many parts of Asia, for example, energy consumption will continue to increase, and often the basis of that energy consumption is on emissions-intensive fuels.
While important, isolating and measuring each country’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions individually diminishes the progress. A collective approach should be taken – as a global society we need to find a global solution to a global challenge.
So how can we reduce greenhouse gas emissions while continuing to meet the world’s energy needs?
Natural gas is recognised as the perfect complement to the growing use of renewable sources, to enable us to become a cleaner, greener planet.
In a National Press Club address in January, Prime Minister Scott Morrison highlighted the importance of using natural gas to help the transition to renewable energy.
“Gas has a critical role to play as a backstop to our record investment in renewable energy generation. It helps ensure we can keep the lights on when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining,” Prime Minister Morrison said.
“Gas can help us bridge the gap while our investments in batteries, hydrogen and pumped hydro energy storage bring these technologies to economic parity with traditional energy sources.”
Natural gas, as a lower-carbon, cleaner energy source, delivers an array of environmental benefits:
- Reduced emissions of fine particulates
- Reduced emissions of nitrogen oxides and sulphur dioxide (an important contributor to smog and acid rain)
- Significantly lower demand for water in power station cooling
And as the largest liquefied natural gas exporter in the world, Australia is perfectly placed to aid the reduction in worldwide carbon emissions.
APPEA Chief Executive Andrew McConville says LNG exports from Australia have the potential to save global emissions equal to over a quarter of the country’s total annual domestic greenhouse gas emissions.
“Clearly there are emissions associated with producing LNG, but there can be real emissions reductions in its use in Australia’s export customer countries.”
Latest figures from the Australian Government show that our country’s LNG exports have the potential to lower emissions in importing countries by around 159 million tonnes by displacing coal consumption in those countries.
This is the equivalent of equalling nearly 30 per cent of Australia’s total annual emissions and is more than the entire emissions from the Australian transport and waste sectors combined.
The 2019 World Energy Outlook (WEO) report from the International Energy Agency found that in both their Stated Policies Scenario (incorporating current policy intentions and targets) and Sustainable Development Scenario (what needs to be done to achieve climate and other energy goals), the role of natural gas globally does increase, with the rate of increasing varying by scenario.
What remains constant, however, is the notion that a future with a combination of energy sources, including natural gas and renewable energy, will reduce global emissions and contribute to achieving our global solution.
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