Coal vs Gas

There is no doubt that the world must head as quickly as technologically possible towards the generation of energy via renewable energy sources. There is no doubt that natural gas before and after being consumed to generate energy, is a major contributor to greenhouse gas production. However, the problem is that it will be many years before renewable energy source can viably generate sufficient base and peak load electrical energy.

SO WHAT DO WE DO?

  1. NOTHING AND CONTINUE TO BURN COAL; OR,
  2. GENERATE ELECTRICITY BY NUCLEAR POWER; OR
  3. WE UTILISE AN ENERGY SOURCE THAT IS ABUNDANT IN AUSTRALIA AND ONE THAT IS LESS DAMAGING TO THE ENVIRONMENT COMPARED TO COAL. THIS WILL HELP BRIDGE THE ENERGY GAP BETWEEN COAL AND RENEWABLES. AT THE SAME TIME THE NATION WILL BENEFIT GREATLY FROM THE SUSTAINABLE EXPLOITATION OF THIS VALUABLE ENERGY SOURCE. THIS ENERGY SOURCE IS NATURAL GAS (WHICH INCLUDES CSG) 

The australian resource sector is now the largest contributer to the nations wealth at a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 9% (exceeding the manufacturing sector for the first time). The resource sector is largely the reaon why Australia avoided resession as a result of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC). We are the lucky nation and a significant reason for this is as a result of the wealth created by the resources sector. The CSG industry is to become a major contributor to the nations wealth due to the declining conventional natural gas sources in the Cooper Basin and the Bass Straight etc and the increasing need for CLEANER ENERGY.

It is being suggested by some groups that gas is as bad if not worse than coal as a fuel in terms of greenhouse gas production.  The following are quotes in relation to the coal vs gas debate:

  • Natural Gas vs Coal: Undoubtedly, high efficiency natural gas-fired power stations can produce up to 70% lower greenhouse gas emissions than existing brown coal-fired generators, and less than half the greenhouse gas emissions of the latest technology black coal-fired power stations.

http://www.global-greenhouse-warming.com/gas-vs-coal.html

Sure we all know that natural gas was a better ”transition fuel” than coal-fired electricity, but what we should be doing is reduce demand, increase efficiency and shift to 100 per cent renewable energy."

http://www.envirojean.com/2010/09/28/gas-vs-coal-%E2%80%93-what-should-be-the-strategy/

  • "On burning, natural gas produces nearly half the CO2 per unit of energy delivered compared to coal because of a lower ratio of carbon to hydrogen (52.4kg CO2/GJ versus 93.8kg CO2/GJ."

http://www.premiercoal.com.au/EnergyForOurFuture/Greenhouse-Effect/Coal-vs-Gas.aspx

  • "Increasingly more people are turning to natural gas as a possible solution because it burns cleaner than coal or oil."

http://netgreennews.com/natural-gas-vs-coal/

  • “Natural gas is viewed as environmentally more clean (than coal),” Cardott said, “(but) that’s not to say there aren’t issues.

http://www.aapg.org/explorer/2008/07jul/coalvgas.cfm

These quotes and the scientific data gos on and on, is there for all to see and cannot be refuted. However, what needs to be done is that all energy sources, whether renewable or not, must be compared holistacaly. Each energy source must be considered from the start of the process up until the end. For example wind farms have their own environmental issues which are comming more and more into the public eye. Where did the steel, cables, concrete etc come from to make the wind turbines? Where did the material for solar fuel cells come from? How much greenhouse gas is produced not only from the coal mine to the power station but also how detrimental for the environment is the manufacture of all the capital equipment required to mine and transport the coal? It is the same for natural gas. We must compare apples to apples when making comparisons.

The following pages should assit in answering these questions. 

Gas builds the necessary bridge between coal and renewables. However, there are clearly environmmental issues and the gas must be extracted, transported and used in a socially and environmentally sustainable manner. We should all work together to achieve this. What is the alternative to this strategy?

 
 
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