The Role of LNG in the Energy Transition

LNG acts as a transition as well as a destination fuel, enabling us to work towards a net-zero emissions future while boosting economies worldwide. By reducing the carbon intensity of industrial operations, LNG is helping to pave the way to a sustainable energy future, making it time to shift away from coal.

What exactly is LNG?

Natural gas, as an eco-friendly fossil fuel, contains largely methane and emits less harmful carbon dioxide than coal and oil. Natural gas is also a more accessible and dependable source of energy than wind and solar.
However, natural gas cannot be shipped via pipelines across oceans, which makes the idea of keeping it in a natural form a bit more challenging. Still, natural gas remains a valuable resource worth investing in. Energy sector stakeholders have devised innovative technologies to convert it to a liquid form, making it easier to transport to global markets.

LNG exists in the liquid state at -161°C (-259°F). Natural gas after liquefaction shrinks in volume by a factor of 600 and in weight to half the weight of water. This makes it easy to transport LNG via road and sea. Across the sea, LNG is re-gasified in a regasification plant and then distributed to commercial and domestic users via pipelines.

Note: On top of cutting carbon emissions significantly, burning natural gas doesn’t emit sulfur dioxide, soot, dust, or particulates. Its mercury, butane, ethane, and propane content is also extremely low.

How LNG Can Contribute to a More Sustainable and Low-Carbon Future?

A new approach should be considered when trying to get away from coal and other fossil fuel that may be polluting the environment. For example, investing in advancements in wind and solar technologies to secure their reliability even in harsh weather conditions. Another approach is investing in LNG technology and minimizing its environmental impact to make it a cleaner transition fuel. With these efforts, we can effectively move towards a greener future. Some people are still skeptical about LNG’s “cleanliness” due to the fact that it is a hydrocarbon. 

LNG investors are sparing no effort in cleaning up LNG and making it more sustainable for a low-carbon future. They’re, for example, pumping big bucks into:

1. Decarbonization of LNG’s supply chain

Decarbonization efforts are in full gear, aimed at gradually eliminating carbon footprint throughout the LNG supply chain. The entire value chain now uses low- and zero-emission technologies. Upstream operations such as drilling and processing now employ carbon capture and storage (CCS) infrastructure to remove carbon from raw materials during the extraction processes. Midstream operations such as liquefaction and regasification processes now utilize hydropower and other renewable energy sources.  Ships carrying LNG to faraway markets also use low-carbon fuels used in shipping. In the downstream, LNG distributors have invested in better quality pipelines that eliminate leaks.

2. Carbon offsets

Carbon offsets (such as carbon sequestration) are helping the LNG sector to counter greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in its supply chain. The industry has been investing in carbon offsets since 2019. Many deals have been made globally when it comes to carbon sequestration by a high number of companies like BP, Gazprom, Shell, Mitsui, and Total. Reforestation and habitat restoration projects were the main focus of these deals focusing in developing countries across Africa, Asia, and South America.

Integrating Renewable Energy Sources Into The Power Grid

Due to their intermittency, renewable energy from solar and wind power sources is not entirely reliable. To be more specific, they only operate at full capacity for less than a quarter of a day, making their contribution to the power supply insignificant. However, LNG is coming to their aid by enabling grid operators to make gradual adjustments while keeping the energy sector intact.

If we compare the cost per KWH of wind, solar power, and LNG, the cost of the first and the second one is much higher because the construction of renewable energy plants requires a high cost per megawatt of capacity, which is compounded by the high cost of solar-voltaic panels in utility-scale solar plants.

Meanwhile, LNG plants can operate at full capacity, all day, all year round. Therefore, an LNG plant can produce 6 times more energy output than a wind or solar plant of the same capacity.

The advantages of renewable energy sources, besides reduced emissions, are not limited. But with LNG’s help, we can gradually increase renewable energy penetration into the grid without breaking the energy sector bank. LNG is a reliable alternative that will keep emissions low as the energy sector figures out ways of optimizing renewable energy generation, storage, and distribution.

LNG Versatility: It’s Potential To Replace Higher-Emitting Fuels In Various Sectors

LNG is a versatile fuel that’s gradually replacing higher-emitting fuels in various sectors of the global economy. Some of the LNG applications include:

  • Cooking in households

LNG companies, such as AG&P in India, are connecting homes to uninterrupted and more affordable natural gas in the form of Piped Natural Gas (PNG). PNG is non-toxic and non-polluting, unlike conventional cooking fuel. This gas also ensures families cook safely and lead healthier lives. It is lighter than air which allows it to disperse quickly in case of a leakage, effectively reducing the risk of fire in the home. 

PNG is also applicable in cooking, heating, and air-conditioning in hospitals, hotels, restaurants, theaters, etc. In manufacturing industries such as chemical and petrochemical plants, it is used for power generation as well as to fuel cogeneration systems.

Note: PNG is piped directly to households and business premises. This eliminates the need for gas cylinders.

  • Marine fuel

There now are container ships and cruise ships that are specially built to run on LNG. This is due to the need for phasing out conventional marine fuels in the marine sector as a way of meeting IMO’s sulfur regulations. LNG keeps the ships within the IMO guidelines while providing the same amount of propulsion power. 

  • Fuel for heavy-duty trucks

Natural gas in the form of either LNG or CNG) can be used as a fuel for vehicles. It is compatible with both SI and CI internal combustion engine technologies. CNG is a perfect alternative for petrol engines while LNG is perfect for diesel vehicles. Both fuels improve trucks’ fuel efficiency and engine life while lowering maintenance costs. AG&P provides easy access to eco-friendly and affordable CNG  for India’s heavy commercial vehicles.

Final word

Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) releases significantly less CO2 than coal or oil – 40% and 30% less, respectively. When it comes to households and industries, LNG offers a reliable source of fuel. It’s the perfect transitional energy source, bridging the gap to more renewable options while keeping the global economy moving forward.