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The future of gas: golden age or lost opportunity?

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LNG Industry,

The increasing focus on reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is encouraging us to consider the most effective ways to transition from high carbon energy sources, such as coal and oil, to carbon-free renewable energy.

The Paris Agreement demands a reduction in GHG emissions to ensure the global average temperature increase is less than 2ºC above pre-industrial levels. However, while the importance of renewables is increasing, current estimates suggest it will take a generation before they dominate our energy landscape. Over the past decade, gas has been growing in both abundance and accessibility. Today, gas stands on the verge of a golden age, but this will only be realised if questions regarding adequate infrastructure provision, to support growth, market flexibility and security of supply, are answered. If not, we risk bypassing not only a clear economic opportunity now, but also of throwing into doubt our responsibility to meet the world’s energy requirements in the future.

A commercial opportunity and a moral duty

The Paris Agreement defined the contribution each participating country will make to mitigate global warming and thereby implement the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This year, all participating members have been asked to take stock of their progress.

Each country has specified its individual Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) to the agreement. However, the combined current INDCs of all parties will not achieve the 2ºC cap on temperature increases.

Demand for energy is forecasted to rise by approximately a third to 2040 (BP Energy Outlook 2018). Although total energy demand in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries is declining, it is increasing in the emerging economies of India, Southeast Asia, China, Latin America, the Middle East and parts of Africa.

While renewables are the fastest growing energy source accounting for 40% of the increase in primary energy by 2040, wind and solar will still only make up 14% of global primary consumption by that time (BP Energy Outlook 2018).

This is an abridged version of an article written by Peter O'Sullivan, Penspen, UK, for the November 2018 issue of LNG Industry. To read the full version, click here

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