GS Paper 3
Syllabus: Energy, Environment and Conservation
Direction: The article attempts to explain LNG and why switching to LNG is not an environmentally sustainable idea and way forward.
- The EU is replacing piped Russian gas imports with rapidly increasing imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG), much of which is fracking in the US.
- By the end of the decade, additional costs for Germany’s gas imports could reach up to €200bn ($212bn), doubling gas bills for consumers.
- While the EU becomes the biggest LNG importer in the world, climate activists are calling it a major setback in the effort to limit global warming as LNG emits 10 times more than the piped gas.
- Also, the activists reject the claims that most LNG infrastructure is suitable for green hydrogen in the future.
What is LNG?
- LNG is natural gas reduced to a liquid state (liquefaction) through intense cooling to around -161 degrees Celsius (-259 Fahrenheit).
- This liquid gas is 600 times smaller than the original volume and is half the weight of water, thus, can be transported around the world by ship.
- After arriving at its destination, the cargo is regasified in a floating terminal and redistributed through pipelines.
- This compressed fossil fuel is wholly made up of methane – a potent greenhouse gas (GHG).
- Despite LNG’s export potential, the high cost of liquefaction and producing LNG has limited its market.
- The cooling, liquefying and transport processes, as well as the post-transport regasification procedures, require a lot of energy.
- Also, between 10-25% of the energy of the gas is being lost during the liquefaction process.
What’s the climate impact?
- LNG emits about twice as much GHG as ordinary natural gas, emits 14 times as much carbon as solar power when producing the equivalent amount of energy, and 50 times as much carbon as wind power.
- Risk of methane leakages across the supply chain, makes LNG much more emissions-intensive.
- Processing LNG is so energy and carbon-intensive that it can create almost 10 times more carbon emissions than piped gas.
Concerns: Shifting toward LNG would not only be in conflict with the national climate targets but would constitute a breach of national legislation and international commitments under the Paris Agreement.
- Cheaper sustainable energy sources could instead make up the current gas deficit.
- Comprehensive energy efficiency upgrades. Germany, for example, can save more gas than new LNG terminals offer, by investing solely in building efficiency.
- Any LNG terminals that are built need to be easily retrofitted for green hydrogen to fast-track the clean energy transition.
Prelims Links: (UPSC 2014)