Did you know that once fully completed, the LNG Canada project will have 4 trains with the capacity to export 28 million tonnes of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Asia each year?
This is huge news for LNG in Canada. It’s also very good news for the global environment as this amount of exported LNG has the potential to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) by 82 megatonnes annually via displacing coal-fired power plants in China.
But just how much is 82 megatonnes - or 82 million tonnes of CO2? Roughly speaking, that is equivalent to 15% of Canada's annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, or removing approximately 18 million cars from the road every year!
Defining Canada’s Role in a Global Environment
What if Canada could make the world a better place through the responsible development and export of its natural resources? We can, and we should!
Canada has the potential to displace less efficient forms of energy production like thermal coal generation across the world - especially in China, Southeast Asia and the Middle East, where emerging economies are increasingly relying on coal for power generation. We just needs the infrastructure and facilities to do so.
In China, for example, the average efficiency of a coal-fired power plant is about 35% (Desjardins, Crude Views Weekly Note – Nov 23rd, 2019). Meanwhile, China is set to build enough coal-fired power plants to match the entire capacity of the European Union. New coal generation is India is also booming.
If Canada can demonstrably show that exporting our oil and gas could displace poorer environmental practices elsewhere, would we not be obligated as stewards of the planet to do so? Would it not be morally responsible to invest in Canadian energy to the benefit of all humanity?
GHG emissions know no boundaries. What Canada does here to reduce emissions elsewhere affects the global environment. Just like how when China invests in an endless amount of coal plants to supplement their growing energy needs, it can affect the air quality right here in Canada.
GHG Emissions are Global
Why should Canadian emissions be considered within the boundaries of our country alone versus the world as a whole? Smog from Asia reaching Canada’s coast is a prime example why a global perspective on GHG emissions is a must. That’s the perspective Desjardins has, and we all should have.
To properly calculate GHG emissions associated with exports from the LNG Canada project, Desjardins took the liberty of considering all emissions involved - from production in the vast Montney natural gas fields in Western Canada all the way to the electrical utilities and thermal efficiency of coal plants in Asian countries.
Flow Chart: The ‘Proper’ Definition of the Canadian Contribution to GHG Reduction Goals
Here’s how Desjardins calculated the numbers (chart above). A number of assumptions around LNG were made, including:
- Assumption that upon completion the LNG Canada project has four operational trains
- Emissions associated with gathering and processing natural gas in the field (2% shrinkage)
- Emissions associated with liquefying natural gas at LNG Canada facilities in Kitimat (8-10% shrinkage of volume from this process)
- Emissions associated with energy consumption of transporting LNG to China in large tanker ships (0.10-0.25% per day of engine fuel)
- Number of days it takes to transport LNG from Western Canadian coast to China (10 days)
To estimate the amount of annual power produced by 28 million tonnes of liquefied natural gas from LNG Canada delivered to China, Desjardins steps into the world of thermodynamics.
The ‘heat rate’, or relative efficiencies of typical natural gas and coal fired power generation and their relative emissions intensity per unit of energy produced were used to determine that LNG Canada exports to China would generate 19.1 Gigawatts (GW) of power annually.
Once the emission conversion is calculated, Desjardins found that:
- The amount of coal required to generate 19.1 GW (equivalent to LNG delivered from LNG Canada) would emit 159,000,000 tonnes of CO2 per annum
- The amount of emissions from the net natural gas delivered to China from LNG Canada would equal roughly 78,000,000 tonnes of CO2 per annum
- Emissions difference: Thermal Coal vs LNG from Canada – 81,000,000 tonnes of CO2 per year (rounding applied)
Desjardins: “The bottom line here is that if we want to get serious about making a dent in global GHG emissions as a country, we need to invest more in Canadian energy, not less. The Canadian energy sector has demonstrated that it leads the world in responsible development of its resources. The basic math is telling – the world needs more Canada!!!”
LNG Canada: Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) Criteria
In recent years, ESG criteria has become top of mind for many investors around the world. A recent ESG Scorecard released in November of 2019 shows just how exemplary Canada’s record is when it comes to ESG criteria and LNG in our country is no different.
A new report called Canada’s Green LNG Advantage: Extensive electrification offers critical low-emissions advantage in the global pursuit of clean growth, details just how low-carbon LNG projects in Canada are compared to others around the world.
The emission intensities of LNG Canada, Énergie Saguenay, Kitimat and Tilsbury specifically are compared to the global LNG facility average, with very positive results (graphics below). Partial or full electrification using hydro power is a boon for the case of LNG in Canada, and the environmental and economic benefits these projects could create.
Furthermore, the report cited above noted that in 2018 natural gas demand grew by 4.6% - the fastest annual pace since 2010, and LNG trade is expected to double by 2040. Also, the IEA predicts that natural gas demand will continue to boom until 2024 and that total global demand could increase by as much as 45% by 2040.
With emission profiles and demand forecasts like these, it's without a doubt that Canada has an important role to play in the future global natural gas and LNG market.
Canada’s LNG Potential
The Énergie Saguenay project is projected to have a GHG emission profile that is 84% lower than similar-sized producers in Asia and the U.S.
Kitimat LNG is projected to operate with less than 33% the GHG intensity of the global LNG facility average, with the potential to have the lowest emissions of any large project in the world.
LNG Canada is projected to operate with about 50% the GHG emission intensity of the global LNG facility average, producing the most competitive carbon footprint gas in the world.
The Tilbury LNG facilityhas a carbon intensity which is approximately 50% less than that of the average LNG facility on the U.S. Gulf Coast.
A handful of other projects like Woodfibre and Goldsboro are also critically important for their potential to displace ‘dirty’ thermal coal power generation elsewhere in the world.
Like the LNG Canada project in B.C., they too have the potential to displace emissions equivalent to removing millions more cars off the road annually while stimulating our provincial and national economies.
Bottom line is that Canadian LNG is world-class. As leaders in ESG criteria, we should play as large a part as we can in helping the world transition from ‘dirty’ coal to cleaner natural gas power generation while taking up as much of the booming global natural gas market as we can, period.
More LNG in Canada
- United States LNG, Petroleum Product Exports Set New Records
- 3 Reasons Why Canada Needs B.C. LNG
- 10 Facts You Should Know About LNG in Canada
- LNG Canada: Frequently Asked Questions (+ Answers)
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