Promoting Natural Gas

21/10/2015

Liquefied natural gas is loaded onto an LNG carrier

Gas: the Energy Transition’s Natural Ally

The main challenge in achieving the energy transition so essential to our world lies in balancing economic growth with measures to manage climate change. Along with renewable energies, there is a fossil fuel that could change the game: natural gas, for which demand is expected to grow sharply. 
 

Natural gas presents advantages in terms of costs, flexibility and environmental impact. CO2 emissions from the combustion of natural gas to generate electricity are only half of that from burning coal, a good thing for a planet confronted with global warming. Conversion to gas is easy, particularly for power generation, as it only takes two years to build a power plant. 
 

Another advantage of natural gas for both emerging and industrialized countries is that it is abundantly available, especially with the numerous discoveries in recent years. Russia, Iran and Qatar have the world's largest proved reserves of conventional gas. According to Advanced Resources International Inc. (ARI), the United States holds the largest reserves of shale gas, followed by China and Argentina.

jerome_schmitt_wgc
Coal-fired power plants release an aggregate 10 billion metric tons of carbon per year, or one fifth of total global emissions. Replacing them with gas-fired power stations would cut these emissions in half.
Jérôme Schmitt, Senior Vice President, Sustainable Development & Environement at Total

LNG: Competitive Price and Flexible Supply

LNG has two major advantages. First, it provides a way to transport gas over very long distances

Second, LNG offers a great deal of flexibility in terms of destination. Unlike with pipelines, we can re-route LNG carriers in relation to demand around the world and respond swiftly to periods of peak consumption

Today, new uses for LNG have emerged. For example, we're currently seeing greater use of LNG in maritime transportation.

Gas May Be Renewables’ Greatest Ally

Essential for meeting growing energy demand and for tackling climate change, solar and wind energy are expected to account for 4% of the worldwide energy mix in 2035, according to the International Energy Agency. But if these two energies are to be developed on a large scale, the challenges associated with their variability must be addressed.

The availability of solar and wind energy varies greatly depending on the weather and the time of day and does not always match demand, which itself fluctuates. Storage is seen as one solution and Total is pursuing projects of this type with various start-ups. However, gas is also a key ally in adding flexibility to changing electricity markets. It could take over for renewables when generation of these energies is insufficient to meet demand.

Arnaud Chaperon
Gas fits nicely with variable renewable energies in two ways. First, they fit in terms of use since, unlike solar and wind energy, gas can be stored until it is needed. Second, they fit in terms of cost.
Arnaud Chaperon, Senior Vice President, Prospective Analysis, Institutional Relations & Communication in Total New Energies