Giving natural gas a fair go ?  

Posted by Big Gav in ,

The Australian has an article from the head of the gas pipeline industry arguing that we should be making greater use of natural gas, mostly coal seam gas, for power generation(or biogas, though she doesn't mention that), in combination with renewable energy sources - We must give natural gas a fair go to meet our clean energy targets.

Australia has many years supply of natural gas. Much of this will be coal seam gas, which also comes from coal beds and is sometimes called coal bed methane. It is produced from coal seams and sold into the general natural gas market. These coal seams are usually far underground and not viable for mining by coalminers, but the gas contained in them can be mined.

The proven reserves of coal seam gas in Queensland are in excess of 21,000 petajoules (ultimate reserves are estimated to be 10 times this amount) and are expected to form a large part of eastern Australia's gas supply into the future, providing fuel for new gas-fired power generation. As this "new" gas supply is developed, much of it is destined to be exported as LNG (natural gas compressed into liquid form).

Natural gas can and will help Australia to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, but gas will not do this through government policies. It will reduce our carbon emissions because it is the world's cleanest fossil fuel and because Australia has plenty of it. By most accounts, Australia has at least a century of gas. About 60 per cent of our natural gas is used locally but only about 10 per cent is used in our homes. ...

It is likely Australia could source half of its electricity from natural gas and half from renewable energy, in which case our emissions from the stationary energy sector would fall by more than 75 per cent.

Given that the stationary energy sector is responsible for about 50 per cent of Australia's total emissions, this would be an important contribution.

Such a shift cannot happen rapidly but Australians are right to expect that their government would want to encourage such an outcome. Alas, no. There are no federal programs to encourage the use of natural gas for power generation. (Queensland requires 13 per cent of power generation to come from natural gas.)

As a fuel that has generated less than half the emissions in power generation than coal, natural gas should be the answer to our emissions reduction target. It is expected there will be some increase in demand for gas but under present policies, Australia will not get the full benefits from its gas supplies.

Natural gas will be required as a back-up fuel for renewable energy and for peaking power, but it will do this without assistance from the government. Much, but not all, of this natural gas will come from coal seam gas deposits.

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