Role Of Gas In Energy Security Recognised

Published: Thu 9 May 2024 02:25 PM
Electrification is a key part of decarbonising New Zealand’s energy system, and it’s pleasing to see the importance of gas in achieving that goal is being openly acknowledged, GasNZ chief executive Jeffrey Clarke says.
“All the modelling shows New Zealand’s electricity generation will rely on an element of thermal generation for at least the next couple of decades to supplement the growth of intermittent renewable electricity generation sources.
“And with half the carbon footprint of coal, natural gas is by far the far preferable fuel to meet this shortfall,” he says.
However, the Minister for Resources, Hon Shane Jones, has recently expressed concern at the diminishing supply of natural gas available to keep the lights on.
And yesterday Genesis Energy announced its intention to import more coal to fuel its thermal generation at its Huntly plant, due to the uncertainty of sufficient gas supply.
Clarke says it’s reassuring that the Government is concerned about the availability of natural gas in upcoming years, given gas’s key role in supporting electricity generation and industry, and has recognised that investment is needed to bolster the ongoing supply.
Meanwhile the future availability of gas as a fuel of choice for smaller consumers is also a priority for the sector, he says.
“Happily, a transition to renewable, net-zero carbon gas is a viable and realistic path for smaller gas consumers such as households and restaurants.”
Potentially New Zealand has enough feedstock to replace natural gas with biogas generated from organic waste to supply these smaller consumers, Clarke says.
And New Zealand energy companies are investing in biogas production facilities.
Biogas sourced from organic waste is increasingly being used internationally to transition away from fossil-sourced natural gas.
Denmark, for example, has already replaced 32 percent of its natural gas with biogas sourced largely from animal waste and has a target of ramping this up to 100 percent by 2030.
With a recent consumer preference study commissioned by the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) confirming that most residential owners of gas appliances intend hanging on to them until the end of their service lives, if the potential of biogas is realised, they will be able to keep using their gas appliances indefinitely.
A real advantage of this is they won’t have to stump up with the hefty upfront cost of replacing their appliances with non-gas alternatives, Clarke says.
Net-zero carbon biomethane is chemically identical to the natural gas-sourced methane we use today in our homes, and is fully compatible with existing gas appliances.
“Not only is the criticality of a sufficient supply of natural gas as a transition fuel being recognised by the Government for New Zealand’s energy security out to 2050, but the decarbonising of gas itself will mean consumers will continue to have a choice of low-carbon energy sources in a decarbonised energy future.”

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