Gas Has Key Role In Transition: IEA
The International Energy Agency (IEA) published a report on July 16 concluding that natural gas will play a key function in the transition towards cleaner energy.
The report recognises that the greater use of gas – which accounted for almost half of energy demand growth last year – has already helped limit emissions levels over the last decade, alongside an increase in the input of renewables and nuclear power.
According to the agency, a “quick win” can be achieved by replacing more coal with gas in the power generation sector. Doing so could prevent the release of up to 1.2 gigatons of CO2, with the largest gains being seen in the US and Europe. This in turn would lower global power sector emissions by 10% and total energy-related CO2 pollution by 4%.
The environmental benefits for building new gas infrastructure are less clean-cut, however. In carbon-intensive energy markets such as India and China, this infrastructure can play a major role alongside renewables in clamping down on emissions, the agency said.
In less carbon-intensive regions like the US and Europe, new infrastructure risks maintaining higher emissions for longer.
“Overall, the case studies in this report show that the contribution of gas to energy transitions varies widely across regions, between sectors and over time,” IEA director Fatih Birol said. “They also highlight the limits of this contribution: gas cannot, of course, do it all. It can bring environmental benefits, but it remains a source of emissions in its own right and new gas infrastructure can lock in these emissions for the future."