Natural gas can help reduce greenhouse emissions in Australia and in LNG export markets.
Renewable energy sources, such as solar power and wind power, are intermittent – they cannot provide continuous power generation. Renewable energy must be combined with forms of baseload power (continuous power generation) and peaking power (which can be brought online quickly in times of high demand).
Gas is suitable for both baseload and peaking power, and it produces much lower greenhouse gas emissions than coal (generally about 50-70% lower).
Gradually replacing coal-fired power with gas-fired power would greatly reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions. Replacing coal with gas has greatly reduced US emissions.
When converted to liquefied natural gas (LNG) for export, natural gas can also help reduce greenhouse gas emissions elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific region. For every tonne of greenhouse gas emissions generated by LNG production in Australia, up to 9 tonnes of emissions are avoided in the Asia-Pacific region when this gas is substituted for coal in electricity generation. This has global benefits.
Natural gas also uses much less water than coal-fired power and produces much lower levels of noxious substances such as sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and fine particle emissions. Burning gas instead of coal also improves urban air quality, which is particularly important in many Asian cities.