Gas for cleaner electricity

CO2 emissions The conversion of coal- and oil-fired power generation to best performance combined-cycle gas turbine (CCGT) plants would cut emissions by 58% relative to 1990 levels.

Other gaseous emissions Natural gas also produces two to three times less NOx (a pollutant with significantly higher global warming impact than CO2) and much less SO2 (a pollutant responsible for acid rain) than coal per unit of energy content. Natural gas contributes to significantly decrease particulate pollution, which is estimated to cause 200,000 deaths per year in Europe, by a factor of 1,000 to 3,000 per unit of energy content compared to coal.

Energy efficiency Combined-cycle gas turbine (CCGT) plants can achieve thermal efficiency rates of 55-60%, compared with thermal efficiencies of 42% for coal and 33% for nuclear.

CCS and gas Carbon Capture and Storage is more efficient when working on gas The efficiency loss of a CCGT plant equipped for carbon capture is half that of a coal-fired plant, because it needs a relatively smaller percentage of additional primary energy for the capture and because a coal power plant has a lower efficiency.

Cogeneration Compared with electricity from a conventional power plant and heat from an independent gas-fired furnace, a cogeneration system typically has an efficiency of above 90% and allows greater emission reductions. Natural gas is the ideal fuel for cogeneration.

Decarbonisation and R&D Further R&D in gas would enable technologies such as storage, cleaning and entry into the high-pressure transmission system of biogas. Another research avenue is the deployment of micro-CHP (combined heat & power) systems and gas heat pumps into domestic households.

Power to Gas storage R&D is also focusing on the storage of renewable-derived hydrogen obtained by water electrolysis. Gas pipelines and compressed natural gas (CNG) tanks are capable of holding natural gas/hydrogen mixtures (up to about 10% H2). They can be used in the same energy and industrial applications as natural gas, providing more CO2 savings.

Transmission Natural gas is cost-efficient and easy to transport. Gas pipelines  imply much lower energy losses than electricity grids. Gas is more competitive to store than electricity. Gas is also easy to transport in an invisible, silent way through underground pipelines, which don’t harm the landscape, implying more public acceptance. Offshore gas pipelines can be up to 20 times cheaper to transport energy than offshore electricity lines.

Gas-fired applications Micro-CHP, gas-fired fuel cells and gas-fired heat pumps are being developed to heat and generate electricity in low-emission buildings.