A reliable, renewable & affordable energy future? The answer is gas
10 June 2022
"IF the fluctuations in energy supply and demand have illustrated anything over recent weeks, it's that governments – of all persuasions – should be sending a clear signal to the gas sector that they are prepared to engage constructively with providers," Gas Energy Australia CEO Brett Heffernan said today.
"Pronouncements of phasing-out the use of gas expose the gulf between rhetoric and reality, especially with coal-fired power literally shutting down around us.
"The Australian gas sector is decarbonising. This means consumers – households and businesses – can still use the gas they know, love and rely on, without adding to an increased load on the electricity system. Australian gas producers and suppliers can deliver 100% renewable, net zero gas through the existing network of pipes, cylinders and tanks, with minimal changes required.
"Last year, renewables like solar and wind provided 24% of Australia's energy. That's great, but it means there is a 76% shortfall that, in the absence of gas, cannot and will not be met.
"This current crisis demonstrates that governments need to work with gas providers, not publicly muscle-up against and demonise gas for a short-term PR bump. Meet us halfway in recognising the emerging gas technologies being developed right now.
"Governments must take a technology-neutral approach to achieving net zero emissions, not go off half-cocked in picking ideological winners.
"The emergence of renewable, net zero gases, such as 100% renewable dimethyl ether, which is a completely green gas is a game-changer. It is produced from food waste, agricultural residues and landfill. Biopropane and biomethane have the same chemical properties and function the same as LPG and natural gas, but are 100% renewable.
"Any irrational lurch to arbitrarily sideline gas, ignoring these developments, could be catastrophic.
"In just the past week in South Australia, where the state relies on renewables like solar and wind, gas has been the only thing preventing the lights going out over multiple days of backouts."
The graph attached, courtesy of opennem.org.au, shows that gas (in orange) supplied almost all electricity in South Australia for two-to-three days as solar and wind disappeared in cloudy, windless weather. The purple represents diesel generators.
"What is clear is governments cannot continue pursuing electrification as the sole means to achieve emission reduction targets. If they do, households and businesses will not be able to take advantage of the benefits of renewable gases as they come on the market.
"The simple reality is electrification cannot, and will not, do everything. Recent geopolitical events and natural disasters should be demonstrating the importance of having a diverse energy mix to maintain secure energy systems and absorb shocks.
"The danger if this isn't approached sensibly, and in partnership with the gas sector, is that the prevalence of widespread, persistent and repeated blackouts will be a reality for Australians. That's why bedding down a consistent, reliable supply of gas – including renewable, net zero gases – is imperative.
"Gas plays a significant role in Australia's energy mix, with seven million households and more businesses using LPG and natural gas for their daily needs.
"The gas sector is already contributing to efforts to combat climate change and is well on the way to decarbonise through renewable gases. Governments and regulators need to recognise this transition and support the development of renewable gases as part of a circular gas economy.
"We know consumers prefer gas for their cooking, heating and hot water. It's also essential in manufacturing, where it cannot be replaced as an industrial heat source nor as an ingredient in many of the products needed in modern life, like mobile phones, fertilisers, pharmaceuticals, plastics, rubber... to list just a few.
"With gas clearly needed for our energy security; and gas companies already in transition to renewable, net zero gases; government's should be backing them in, not shutting them out."
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