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API: U.S. LNG exports cut GHG emissions in power production

A study commissioned by the American Petroleum Institute (API) stressed that using U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) in power generation significantly cuts GHG emissions.

API U.S. LNG exports cut GHG emissions in power production
Courtesy of Cheniere

The study conducted by researchers at ICF examines the environmental benefits of U.S. natural gas use in China, Germany, and India, finding that using U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) rather than coal for electricity generation produces on average 50.5 per cent fewer greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in all base case scenarios studied.

“This study underscores what we have known for quite some time – that U.S. natural gas is a far cleaner option than coal for electricity generation, especially in key markets in China, Germany and India,” API director of market development Dustin Meyer said.

Looking at cases in China, Germany and India, the study, “Update to the Life-Cycle Analysis of GHG Emissions for US LNG Exports,” demonstrates the importance of natural gas for achieving global emissions reductions.

In China, coal still makes up 66 percent of power generation – in India, it’s 74 per cent, and in Germany it also remains high – nearly 30 per cent.

Coal generation in the U.S. has fallen from roughly 50 per cent in 2005 to 24 percent in 2019, while natural gas generation has increased from 19 per cent to nearly 40 per cent in the same period. This transition has been instrumental to the U.S. reducing emissions in the power sector by 25 per cent from 2008 to 2018.

The study goes over scenarios that vary by fuel source origination including, natural gas produced in the US (Marcellus and Permian), Australia, and Mozambique, natural gas pipelined from Russia, and domestically produced or imported coal.

Emission impacts of imported LNG are comparable across each source country considered for each market. For Germany and China, LNG exports from the US and other countries have GHG emissions that fall within a compared range as natural gas exported by pipeline from Russia, with the exception of the “High Methane Leaks” and “High GWP” sensitivity scenarios. These scenarios cause a substantial increase in estimated GHG emissions from Russian pipeline gas.

All coal scenarios produce larger emissions than all considered LNG/NG scenarios.

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