The Center for Liquefied Natural Gas (CLNG) released an independent study that quantifies the greenhouse gas emissions released through the lifecycle of electricity production supplied by LNG and domestic coal. The study, performed by PACE Global Energy Services, reveals that existing US coal fired power generation produces 2.5 times (161%) more greenhouse gas emissions than LNG fueled power generation. This “revelation” should not come as a surprise. Anybody who tuned in to the US presidential debates at the end of last year was treated time and again to the Democrats’ criticism of coal as an energy source and to President Obama’s view that the US should burn clean coal or not burn any at all. Given that the US is looking for alternatives, perhaps the CLNG study contains some information that is worth looking at. “As Congress works to pass climate change legislation in the coming months in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it is important that they know the truth about LNG’s contribution to a cleaner environment, said CLNG President, Bill Cooper. “Our study has found that LNG fueled power generation produces 70% fewer greenhouse gas emissions on a lifecycle basis than even the cleanest coal technologies.” According to CLNG, the PACE study provides an “apples to apples” comparison of the lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions attributable to LNG and coal using a representative average of typical US LNG and coal operations used for electricity generation. The study evaluated a natural gas power plant supplied by LNG, a current US coal-fired power plant, and two advanced coal technologies that are not yet commercially viable in the US – Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) and Advanced Ultra Super Critical Coal (SCPC). The study found that existing domestic coal power plants produce 2.5 (161%) more greenhouse gas emissions on a lifecycle basis than LNG-fueled power plants. Even the coal technologies that are considered to be “cleaner,” IGCC and SCPC, were found to produce 70% more lifecycle emissions than LNG. It’s important to remember that end-use fuel combustion produces the large majority of the total lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions for all cases. Emissions from fuel extraction, processing, and transportation are minimal in comparison to the emissions produced from combustion for all of the scenarios evaluated. That aside, the study results make good news. According to Cooper, “LNG will clearly play a crucial role in helping to meet the substantial increase in demand for clean burning natural gas once climate change legislation becomes a reality,” Cooper said. Replacing a single coal plant with LNG-fueled power generation for one year, he said, would equate to removing 557,000 cars off of American roads. Now that’s something the Obama Administration would be happy to hear. Of course, the US doesn’t produce an awful lot of LNG. Most of what the country uses comes from other parts of the world. So even if we move to LNG as a cleaner fuel, we aren’t making dramatic headway toward energy security. Still, it’s good to keep an open mind. The fact that LNG hasn’t gained much of a foothold even though it is a very safe fuel source tells me that promoting LNG is worthwhile. And the more CLNG does to promote LNG, the better off everyone in the oil and gas industry is. Changing misconceptions about fossil fuels is the first step toward changing America’s view toward the industry. And if voters are going to determine whether additional areas are opened for exploration drilling, they need to know the facts about oil and gas. For a copy of the complete PACE Global Energy Services study, visit the CLNG website. Additional stories about CLNG can be viewed at the E&P website.
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