One of the ways to limit harmful emissions and reach climate goals is to phase out coal from the energy sector. However, transitioning from coal straight to renewable energy is an almost impossible task because these resources do not generate as much power as this fossil fuel. Luckily, a transitional fuel is readily available to make the move easier – LNG. Here’s how LNG is winning against coal to ensure a cleaner environment.
Coal and LNG are both fossil fuels, but when it comes to emissions LNG is a much better option. Coal burning causes the release of sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), carbon dioxide (CO2) and other emissions that contribute to acid rain, smog and damage to human health. LNG, on the other hand, reduces sulfur emissions by 99%, NOx by 85% and provides around 20-25% reduction in emissions of CO2.
In fact, according to an independent analysis sponsored by the Center for Liquefied Natural Gas, existing domestic coal power plants in the US produce two and a half times more emissions on a lifecycle basis than LNG ones.
In order to accelerate the move away from coal for power generation, the government of South Korea decided to implement changes in taxation. Under the new plan, taxes on LNG will be reduced to as much as 74% at the same time taxes on thermal coal will rise by 27% from April of this year.
It is expected to help cut down coal used in electricity production from the current 40% to 36.1% of the country’s supply by 2030. The shift will be made easier by boosting LNG use and expanding the role of renewables in South Korea’s energy mix from around 10% right now up to 20% in 2030.
Coal has always been one of the main energy sources along with oil, but environmental concerns are pushing it out from the top position. For example in the US, the share of electricity generated from it fell from 51% in 2008 to 31% in 2016, writes the Union of Concerned Scientists, making way for natural gas to become the country’s more dominant energy source.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) revealed in its World Energy Outlook 2018 that natural gas is projected to overtake coal by 2030 to become the world’s second-largest energy source, landing only behind oil. It is expected that gas demand could be 45% higher by 2040 than it is now. The biggest push for the boost in the popularity of natural gas is credited to the growing use of LNG that will only heighten in the coming years.
Coal phase-out is the most noticeable in Europe with countries like Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Finland, Portugal, Sweden, and the UK all planning to cease the use of this fossil fuel for electricity generation. This goal is being achieved by the closing down of coal-fired power plants. Belgium has already closed down its last plant in 2016 with other countries to follow suit in the next decade.
Not only are coal power plants closing down, but plans for new ones are being scrapped. In Japan, two major projects were already canceled – in March 2017, the Kansai Electric Power and JXTG Holdings power plant and in April 2018 the Shikoku Electric Power project in Sendai. While in Taiwan, 76% of people have expressed their opposition to the expansion of coal capacity in a 2018 referendum, paving the way for gas and renewables to be the next step of power generation.
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