Tech & Science

Why LNG might not solve Canada’s long-term energy challenges – National

The progressive side of Canada’s fossil fuel energy debate opposes the prospect of relying on natural gas as the path to a carbon-free future.

High prices and a surge in demand, largely a result of Russia’s war with Ukraine, have fueled the idea that liquefied natural gas could replace coal fuel around the world.

Critics, however, have called it a short-sighted and unproductive concept that ignores economic and practical realities in Canada and around the world.

Nicole Dusik, senior policy adviser at the International Institute for Sustainable Development, says renewable energy sources such as wind and solar are becoming more viable every day.

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Dusyk says renewable energy has the added advantage of not being a global commodity subject to the whims of market forces.

It’s no secret that Canada can’t adequately export its abundant natural gas, and even if it were to solve its capacity problem, it would be too late to meet current demand.

“High prices are clouding people’s judgments about the long-term economic prospects of natural gas,” Dusik said in an interview.

“The global outlook for natural gas is downward, not upward.”

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The idea of ​​using natural gas as an interim solution to the challenge of meeting current energy demands while reducing carbon emissions has gained momentum in recent months.

Japan, which hosts the World Climate Summit over the weekend, has come under criticism for a proposed strategy that relies heavily on LNG, ammonia and other fossil fuel derivatives as a means of cutting emissions.

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The G7 environment and climate ministers meeting in Sapporo reportedly criticized Japan’s efforts to include LNG-friendly language in its draft statement, calling for more investment amid rising demand.

And a recent report released by the Future Business Center of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce proposes increasing Canada’s LNG export capacity and promoting it as an alternative to coal-fired energy around the world.

“We are in a very strange situation right now,” Dusik said, adding that global condemnation of Russia, which has long been a vital energy source for Europe, has led to a compelling, but short-term, rise in gas prices. pointed out to be causing a sharp rise in

“Europe is actively looking for alternatives around the world”, but “is not looking for LNG in the long term”.

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Dusyk’s own research concludes that there is a “fundamental mismatch” between Canada’s tight production capacity and the pressing needs of Europe and other countries once dependent on Russia.

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The Institute predicts that the European Union could be completely free of its dependence on Russian gas by 2025, too soon for Canada to solve its capacity problem.

Canada may have abundant natural gas reserves, but it lacks the infrastructure capacity to export it overseas, she said. Liquefaction also requires large amounts of clean electricity to keep emissions low, she added.

“We can reduce our emissions, but by their very nature they are energy intensive.”

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At the same time, the debate around LNG has become less and less likely to focus on developing sustainable and renewable infrastructure systems.

“Whether it’s batteries, wind power, or solar power, the cost of renewable energy has dropped significantly. In many markets, renewable energy is the cheapest,” said Dusyk.

A Chamber of Commerce report released earlier this month found that the infrastructure needed to export Canada’s LNG could eventually be transformed into a system that would supply hydrogen, another prominent alternative to fossil fuels. It suggests that there is a possibility that

But Dusik said he has yet to see any analysis suggesting such a shift is feasible.

© 2023 The Canadian Press

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