How is LNG Helping Renewables?
In April 2019, for the first time ever, renewables generated more energy than coal in the US. According to estimates by the Energy Information Administration, renewable sources topped coal by 16%. And it’s only the beginning, as solar and wind energy is now cheaper than coal in creating electricity to households by around three-quarters, shows a new study for Energy Innovation & Vibrant Clean Energy. How does LNG fit into this progress? Read on to find out!
In light of climate change, efforts to decarbonise the energy industry are becoming more vital than ever. The ultimate goal is to transition fully to renewables, but this solution is not yet viable. However, natural gas steps in to give a boost to more sustainable energy sources.
Lowering emissions means moving away from coal-fired and oil-fired power plants. While such facilities cannot be completely replaced with renewables, the technological progress in LNG has allowed the super-chilled gas to do just that in an efficient and environmentally-friendly way. The combination of wind turbine and natural gas energy produces 65% less CO2 than traditional oil or coal plants, and if used evenly, half natural gas – half renewables, the mix can reduce emissions up to 85%.
Carnegie Mellon University research in the US Power Sector Carbon Index shows that displacing coal and oil-fired power plants with a combination of LNG and renewables has already reduced carbon emissions by 33% since 2005 in the US power sector. With this match made in heaven, the energy industry is set to achieve even more environmental gains in the future.
Is LNG really necessary to help out renewables? The answer, for the time being, is definitely yes. The biggest reason for this is the intermittency of renewable power. Its availability is dependent on weather conditions, therefore, it is difficult to predict the supply of power. Not to mention, that, for example, solar panels generate more energy in the summer than winter when energy demand is at its peak.
There is a possibility to meet the higher winter demand with surplus energy from renewables, but the storage of it is tricky. The use of battery technology can become very costly, take up too much storage capacity and can deliver a financial hit if transported over very long distances.
On the other hand, the clean-burning LNG can be easily stored and shipped across the world at relatively low cost. It provides balance in the energy sector as the amount of power from renewables is fluctuating. LNG is proving to be a reliable option to replace highly polluting fuels while also helping to integrate renewable energy until the capabilities and technology for its storage are expanded.
As the world is waiting for zero-carbon energy systems to become commonplace, LNG is doing its part to reduce emissions by more than 50% compared to burning coal. New technologies and innovative strategies in the natural gas sector could help achieve even greater environmental benefits. Industry leaders are already on their way to do just that.
Find out first-hand how they’re doing it and what inspiring developments are happening in the LNG sector at the European LNG Infrastructure Development Summit in Barcelona on 21-22 October 2019. The event will gather LNG experts and key industry players for discussions, knowledge-sharing and networking, and you can join them there too! Learn more on the official event website: www.lngevent.com.