How gas will play a role in Australia’s net zero future

Some say that natural gas is ultimately incompatible with Net Zero, while others say it is absolutely essential. Here’s how it plays that role.

Natural gas is Australia’s huge and growing industry, with export revenues expected to reach $ 56 billion from 2021 to 22. Critics point out that gas emissions are ultimately incompatible with the net zero target, but supporters say gas emissions are half that of coal-fired power plants.

Why do you need gas?

Natural gas supplies just over a quarter of Australia’s total energy and just over one-fifth (21%) of its electricity supply. Remember that there is a difference between these two things. “Energy” includes ways to power cars, homes, heavy industry, and more.

Besides electricity, gas is used for cooking and heating in about 11% of households nationwide, but this percentage varies widely by state and region.

Gas is also important in the manufacture of a variety of products such as plastics, glass, aluminum, hand sanitizers, electronics, sporting goods and fertilizers.

What about gas?

In a nutshell, it emits less than coal, is more reliable, is a major source of export revenue for Australia and employs thousands of people.

“(Gas) is a very clean source of combustion fuel, very abundant here in Australia and very economically efficient here in Australia,” said the Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Petroleum Production Exploration Association (APPEA). Andrew McConville said.

The industry accounts for about 3% of Australia’s total GDP and 13% of its total exports and directly employs about 80,000 full-time workers, including oil.

The industry emphasizes that natural gas is also an important part of the Net Zero pathway.

“Our industry as a whole promises net zero by 2050,” says McConville. “APPEA has a policy position to reach net zero by 2050. We can continue to use gas in a completely consistent way. [the] Paris [Agreement], And is in perfect agreement with achieving net zero by 2050. “

Natural gas is already “doing a lot of hard work” in reducing global greenhouse gas emissions, he says.

“We talk about the switch from coal to gas. The government estimates that Australia’s LNG exports have resulted in approximately 170 million metric tonnes of emission savings per year in Asia (savings). We have already done that and have great prospects for doing more as we move forward. “

What is the case for gas?

Gas is a fossil fuel that produces about half of coal’s greenhouse gas emissions, but considers that only a certain amount of emissions can be emitted into the atmosphere before it causes irreversible damage to the climate and the environment. And that’s still a bad thing.

In a report released in May, the International Energy Agency recommended an immediate and global suspension of new fossil fuel projects.

There are also reports linking gas to poor health, both in terms of gas extraction and household use.

A May 2021 study by Dr. Kate Charlesworth for the Climate Council stated that cooking gas at home was associated with an increased risk of developing asthma and exacerbating existing asthma.

What role will gas play for the 2050?

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said natural gas will help “fill the gap” until renewable energy technology is on par with traditional energy sources.

In September 2020, he announced a “gas-fired recovery” from Covid-19, and the government “more” through various measures, including unlocking five major gas basins starting with Beetaloo in NT and North Bowen. We will bring a lot of gas to the market. ” Galilee, Queensland.

Just days after the IEA report was released in May, the federal government announced that it would spend $ 600 million to build a new gas-fired power plant in the Hunter region. Critics said the announcement was a pure sweetener for the impending New South Wales by-elections. The industry said it supports the role that gas will play in the future energy mix.

Twenty-one percent of the electricity supply from gas “will probably decline somewhat as renewable energy becomes more prevalent,” says McConville. “But it’s more important in many ways because it provides stability to the system.”

Gas is also expected to play a role in hydrogen production, and the IEA reports that 40-50% of global hydrogen demand could come from gas (so-called “blue hydrogen”) by 2050. There is sex. Blue hydrogen is now much cheaper than “green” hydrogen – a type produced by renewable energy.

“So, as we move forward, gas will play a very important role,” says McConville. “The secret is to consider ways to help decarbonize that energy as we move forward.”

So how do you decarbonize the gas?

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is an industry term for the process by which industrially produced greenhouse gases can be pumped to Earth and is not added to the cumulative aggregation in the atmosphere. Proponents have been discussing it for years, but Australia currently has only one CCS project working, but more planned and working projects (operated by Chevron off the WA coast). ) Is suffering from performance issues.

McConville states that there are about 19 CCS projects around the world, which were “safe and lasting solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” He is “absolutely” convinced that technology will be viable on a large scale.

“CCS can help Australia not only reach our emission reduction targets, but also exceed them,” he said.

“With scale and experience, the cost of CCS will be reduced, with the potential to bring competitive and massive reductions to existing industries and new industries such as hydrogen and ammonia.”

SO … GAS. Good or bad?

That may be the wrong question. The debate seems to be settled as to whether it is a necessary part of the transition to Net Zero. Former Chief Scientist Alan Finkel is one advocate, saying that renewable energy is more reliable as a backup for renewable energy than batteries and pumped storage power.

“It’s very easy to characterize the argument as dual, good vs. bad, black vs. white,” McConville said. “It must be understood that it is gray and can be completely factual, if not virtually perfect. In the future, when considering all these options, it should be virtually perfect. it needs to be checked.

“There is no silver bullet for climate change, and all options need to be considered to help Australia reach net zero,” he said.

at first How Gas Can Play a Role in Australia’s Net Zero Future

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