APGA CEO makes points on emissions intensity

APGA Chef Executive Officer Steve Davies provides additional information on emissions intensity.

"Thanks for having a look," he said. "I spent quite a bit of time trying to develop numbers to support my emissions intensity point, but I ultimately felt like it was a bit confusing and too qualified.

"Anyway, here is what I came up with.

"I’ll share some facts from the Australia Government’s Australian Energy Update 2020 (AES) and National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Scheme (NGERS) to make my point.

"From the AES, in 2018-19 Australia produced 5,498 PJ of natural gas. PJ and GWH are both units of measurement for the same thing and I encourage everyone interested in energy to understand how to move between the two. 1 PJ is 278 GWh. Australia’s 2018-19 gas production is equivalent to 1,527,222 GWh of electricity.

"GEM chosen unit of measurement is a 1000MW coal fired power station. A 1000MW coal fired power station produces 1000MWh of energy per hour at full utilisation. With an 80 per cent utilisation annual rate, that’s 7,008 GWh each year. For a 40 year-lifespan, that’s 280,320 GWh in total. On an energy basis, Australia’s gas production in 2018-19 was equivalent to the annual energy output of 218 x 1000MW coal fired power stations which is also the lifetime equivalent energy output  of 5.45 1000MW coal fired power stations.

"Total emissions from natural gas production, transport and use for 2018-19 is a bit harder, there’s no simple figure to quote. The below chart, from the Quarterly Update of Australia’s National Greenhouse Gas Inventory: June 2019, sets out the make-up of Australia’s total emissions of 532 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent for the year 2018-19.

"The data behind the chart tells us that the oil and gas industry accounted for 58 per cent of the fugitive emissions, for 32.5 million tonnes.

"I am going to estimate that gas-fired power generation accounted for 10 per cent of the emissions from electricity, for 17.9 million tonnes. I will also estimate that the combustion of natural gas accounted for 80 per cent of the emissions from stationary energy, for 80.4 million tonnes. I consider these estimates to be reasonable and conservative, happy to discuss in the comments if you disagree.

"That gives us the total emissions from natural gas production, transport and use in 2018-19 of 130.8 million tonnes. According to the GEM report and its coal fired power station unit of measurement, 130.8 million tonnes is equal to the lifetime emissions of ……..drum roll……. less than 1 coal fired power station. GEM uses a figure of 151.6 million tonnes lifetime CO2 emissions for a 1,000 MW coal-fired power station, which means annual emissions from natural gas in Australia is equivalent to 0.86 of a coal fired power station.

"Comparing the numbers, my rough calculation suggests that the natural gas, over the full lifecycle covering production, transport and use, delivers 6.3 times as much energy as coal fired power stations for the same amount of total emissions. Put another way, natural gas has an emissions intensity that is 86% lower than coal fired power stations.

"Direct burning natural gas is the cleanest form of energy we have that is not renewable electricity. When it comes to emissions reduction i.t is the opposite of a low-hanging fruit and in our efforts to achieve net-zero emissions across the globe, we should be mindful of this.

"We could also look at emissions intensity factors of coal-fired power and direct-burn natural gas provided in the NGERS determination but that would not include lifecycle which I have tried to do here."