Page 24 - European Energy Innovation - Autumn 2016 publication
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24  Autumn 2016 European Energy Innovation


Dialogue for Climate Change:

Lowering CO2 emissions with
natural gas

By Gerald Linke (pictured)

    The Paris UN summit on                      Natural gas emits the least CO2 of all
                climate change once again       existing conventional energy carriers
                emphatically emphasised that    when burned, and thus can help reduce
                a fast and efficient reduction  large amounts of CO2 emissions in a
    of CO2 emissions is essential if we want    very short time.
    to effectively limit global warming. We
    should consume no more than 565             HIGHLIGHTING THE POTENTIAL OF
    billion tons of CO2 by the middle of this   NATURAL GAS
    century. But, how can we achieve this       The most important thing now is to
    goal in view of a constantly growing        use good arguments to explain that
    population and the general demand           there is no better alternative if we
    for mobility and comfort? Researchers       want short-term success in climate
    have made huge progress in recent           protection. After all, natural gas can
    decades, paving the way for innovative      be used in a wide variety of ways from
    technologies designed to increase           generating heat and power through
    energy efficiency and the use of            to mobility. In Germany, for example,
    wind, solar and renewable energies;         there are millions of out-dated boilers.
    while these developments are most           The replacement by 2020 of 10 million
    promising they cannot, on their own,        of these boilers by modern natural
    reduce CO2 emissions to the                 gas technologies such as, for instance,
    required level.                             micro-CHP systems or gas heat pumps
                                                would help save 20 million tonnes of
    Natural gas combined with renewables        CO2 per annum. This measure would be
    can, by contrast, provide a basis for a     more efficient from both the property
    sustainable and efficient energy supply.    owners’ and the national economy
    Being the cleanest of all fossil fuels,     points of view than the energetic
    natural gas yields the highest amount       refurbishment of buildings.
    of energy content per unit of carbon
    burnt. This is the decisive criterion       What is more, natural gas is available
    that we must focus on to achieve the        in abundance, accompanied by an
    2-degree climate target. Natural gas        excellent supply infrastructure that
    has to take a dominant role among the       permits the storage of surplus energy
    traditional energy carriers in the energy   if sunny and windy days produce more
    mix if it is to contribute efficiently to   power than the grids can handle.
    global climate protection. For example,     The keyword here is “power-to-gas
    when burned, natural gas emits only         technology”: Electrolysis produces
    about half as much CO2 as lignite or        hydrogen and, in a second step,
    black coal, and about one-third less        methane from water. Both products
    CO2 than crude oil. In other words:         can be fed into existing gas lines for

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