• Three independent life-cycle assessments (LCAs) using same liquefied natural gas (LNG) system but different assumptions and methods
• All three conclude large reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by displacing Chinese coal with Canadian LNG
• Location and operation-dependent factors have more impact on LNG life-cycle results than methods and assumptions
• Researchers all signed a declaration of competing interest, acknowledging they have no financial interests or personal relationships that could affect the results of the study
Canadian LNG Can Help Reduce Global Emissions
China is currently responsible for 28% of the world’s GHG emissions and has been a major contributor to increasing global emission levels over the past several years. A major source of those emissions is China’s hunger for coal, providing affordable, reliable power generation across the country.
Despite repeated warnings from the United Nations and other world organizations on the risks of climate change, there’s been no slowdown for China in constructing new coal fired power plants either.
Canadian LNG has often been touted as a solution to decrease global GHG emissions by displacing coal-fired power generation in China with that of natural gas.
A recent collaborative study called Greenhouse-gas emissions of Canadian liquefied natural gas for use in China: Comparison and synthesis of three independent life cycle assessments confirms the strong case for exporting Canadian LNG to China.
Research groups from Stanford University (SU, USA), University of British Columbia (UBC, Canada) and University of Calgary (UC, Canada) conducted three independent LCAs of the same planned LNG supply chain from Canada to China.
They found that Canadian LNG to China for power and heat generation, when compared with coal, could accomplish a 34-62% reduction in CO2 emissions per unit of electricity generated.
• Coal dominates China’s energy use in most sectors. By the end of 2015, coal accounted for roughly 59% of the nation’s total generation capacity
• Coal supplies a large amount of China’s industrial and district heating demands, at roughly 80%
• When burned, natural gas releases up to 50% less carbon dioxide (CO2) than coal and around 20-30% less than oil
• Switching coal-fired generation with natural gas has been a major focus of China’s global climate policy
• In 2016, China imported 343 billion cubic metres (m3) of LNG, approximately 10% of global LNG import volumes, with Qatar and Australia being the largest suppliers. Chinese demand for LNG is projected to increase for decades.
• To maintain independence of results, initial collaboration between study groups was restricted to broad study outlines and assumptions
• LNG pathway studied includes 5 stages: (1) – upstream, (2) – midstream, (3) – liquefaction, (4) – transport, (5) - downstream
• Three LCA models created to quantify GHG emissions of Canadian LNG to China for power generation and district heating, including CO2, CH4, N2O and HFC-134a
• Study’s independent LCAs addresses potential uncertainty in LCA studies performed by different teams using different methods with results that show significantly lower variations in GHGs
Declaration of Competing Interest
To conclude, a declaration of competing interest was made by the authors of the paper stating:
The authors declare that they have no known competing financial interests or personal relationships that could have appeared to influence the work reported in this paper.
Thank you to the authors for conducting a thorough, independent analysis of Canadian LNG to China for power generation and district heating and the potential GHG emission reductions associated with such.
If there’s any study we should be paying close attention to when asking if Canadian LNG will help reduce global CO2 emissions, the declaration given above is indicative that this should be the one!