The International Gas Union (IGU) says one of the key findings of the just-released 2016 World Energy Outlook (WEO – 2016) published by the International Energy Agency (IEA), is a positive and welcome message for the gas sector. That message is: greater use of natural gas is a vital part of the transition to a low-carbon economy. The IGU urges policymakers to set clear strategies and policies that support the expanded role of natural gas in the energy mix as they look to achieve a sustainable energy future.
David Carroll, President of the IGU commented: “The latest WEO 2016 clearly outlines the strong case for natural gas. Any sustainable and affordable energy mix that addresses the continued growth in global energy needs and efforts to mitigate climate change has to include natural gas. Natural gas can improve air quality in our cities, enable renewable energies and a smooth transition to a lower carbon economy.”
In the IEA’s New Policies scenario – which takes into account the effects of all existing climate policies and declared policy intentions, including the likely results of the climate pledges made in the COP21 Paris Agreements – global natural gas demand grows by nearly half over the Outlook period. While an anticipated growth rate of 1.5% is lower than observed over the past 25 years (2.5%), natural gas continues to be seen as the fastest growing among fossil fuels and is expected to increase its share in global primary energy demand from 21% today to 24% in 2040.
What is more, also in the IEA’s 450 Scenario, which is even more aspiring in terms of climate change policies (assuming “a set of policies that is consistent with a 50% chance of limiting global warming to 2 degrees”), natural gas is acknowledged as a relatively clean and flexible fuel that is expected to further increase its share in the global energy mix.
The IGU is fully supportive of a transition to a lower carbon economy consistent with the outcome of COP 21, and recognizes the large part that renewable energy will play in that transition. The IGU welcomes the IEA’s view that natural gas is “especially advantageous to the transition if it can help smooth the integration of renewables into power systems along the way.”
Natural gas is highly complementary to renewable energy and its versatility, price, and performance characteristics make it the best fuel to partner with renewable energy sources in multiple ways. Amongst other synergies, the IGU points out that natural gas infrastructure enables the broader use of biogas; and natural gas systems provide the backbone for delivering clean and reliable energy as an alternative fuel for land and marine transportation.
For case studies that demonstrate the role that natural gas can play in these an other applications, please visit www.igu.org/news/case-studies-enabling-clean-energies.
The IGU recommends that greater emphasis and financial support should be placed on innovation and new technologies that focus on the complementary nature of natural gas and renewable energies.
In view of the complementary relationship between natural gas and renewable energies, the IGU says that the natural gas industry and renewable energy sector should be strongly encouraged by policy makers and governments to continue to build on their collaboration and work to maximize the value of this partnership.