Gisera Study Confirms the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Benefits of Natural Gas

CSIRO’s GISERA has released a new report that assesses the life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions of a coal seam gas (CSG) to liquefied natural gas (LNG) project in Queensland, and the relative climate benefits of using natural gas in place of black coal as fuel for generation of electricity in Australia.

The report, Whole of Life Greenhouse Gas Emissions Assessment of a Coal Seam Gas to Liquefied Natural Gas Project in the Surat Basin, uses commercial-in-confidence production and emissions data from Queensland using a Surat Basin CSG to LNG project.

This is the first time that accurate estimates of life-cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with an operating CSG-LNG project in Australia have been used, and provide valuable data into the benefits of natural gas for electricity generation.

When outlining the benefits of replacing coal-fired electricity for that of natural gas, the report found that:

‘Considerable climate benefits are possible where natural gas replaced coal for electricity generation; particularly in developing countries.’

While CSG is measured to be more emissions intensive than coal (on a per unit basis) in the production stages, the report finds that in the full lifecycle of electricity generation, gas-fired electricity is significantly lower in greenhouse gas emissions than coal-fired electricity.

‘In Australia, if Surat Basin natural gas was used to displace domestic coal fired electricity generation, GHG emissions intensities would be 0.66 t CO2-e/MWh (open cycle gas turbine) or 0.48 t CO2-e/MWh (closed cycle gas turbine) representing a reduction in emission compared with coal of 31% and 50%, respectively.’

Not only is natural gas (in this case, from Queensland CSG) replacement of coal a cleaner solution, with more knowledge and technological advancement, the benefits are increasing:

‘Methane emissions from natural gas as a fraction of global production have declined from approximately 8% to 2% over the past three decades.’

The bottom line: natural gas is a cleaner option for electricity generation for Australia, and for important export markets around the world.
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