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.
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.