CSIRO study drives ‘vision’ for gas-fired energy

Coal seam gas

The CSIRO has provided further evidence surrounding the climate benefits of using gas in place of coal to generate electricity.

An assessment of whole-of-life greenhouse gas emissions associated with Queensland coal seam gas (CSG) to the liquified natural gas (LNG) industry is detailed in the CSIRO’s gas industry social and environmental research alliance (GISERA).

It reports on the greenhouse gas emissions of a CSG-LNG project in Queensland, and the relative climate benefits of using the state’s natural gas in place of thermal coal as fuel for electricity generation.

The research featured the use of commercial-in-confidence data from a CSG to LNG project in the Surat Basin, Queensland, providing for the first time accurate estimates of greenhouse gas emissions associated with CSG-LNG operations in Australia.

It found that greenhouse gas emissions associated with CSG production, compression, dehydration, water treatment and liquefaction represented 1.4 per cent of likely future production for the CSG-LNG project, equalling 576 petajoules a year.

The primary activities in the CSG-LNG supply chain contributing to emissions in Australia were electricity use on-site for CGS extraction and combustion of natural gas for electricity for LNG production.

Outside Australia, the primary activities contributing to emissions were combustion of natural gas, representing 83 per cent of total emissions when all processes from well head through liquefaction, shipping, regasification and combustion were considered.

Fuel switching from black thermal coal to Queensland CSG for electricity generation using high efficiency closed cycle gas turbines in Australia when avoiding liquefaction, shipping and regasification, represents a 50 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

GISERA director Damian Barrett said the results of this latest research supported other studies which understand methane and other greenhouse gas emissions being associated with unconventional onshore gas activities.

“The climate benefits of using natural gas in place of thermal coal for electricity generation are generally accepted when fugitive emissions are less than three per cent of total production,” he said.

“Replacement of coal-fired power by gas-fired generation, renewables and other low-carbon technologies is part of CSIRO’s vision for Australia’s energy transition.”

GISERA is a collaboration between CSIRO, Commonwealth and state governments and industry established to undertake publicly-reported independent research.

The purpose of GISERA is for CSIRO to provide quality assured scientific research and information to communities living in gas development regions focusing on social and environmental topics.

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