Credit: Richard Humphrey
Gas can be a bridge fuel, displacing coal and helping
to reduce carbon emissions, a
new report concludes. But only for the next twenty years,
and only if the world sorts out carbon capture and storage (CCS)
and sees a dramatic cut in coal use.
Limiting climate change means the world is eventually
going to need to get energy from power sources that are essentially
zero carbon. That means renewables, nuclear power, and perhaps CCS
power plants. If CCS can be used in conjunction with burning wood,
effectively drawing carbon out of the atmosphere, so much the
But in the short term, why not begin with an easier
task and replace coal power with gas, saving carbon emissions in
the process? Effectively using gas as a 'bridge' to a low carbon
The problem is it's tricky to know exactly what a 'gas
bridge' would look like. For instance, how much gas can the world
burn, and for how long? A new report from the UK Energy Research
Centre (UKERC) crunches some numbers to try and answer those
questions, and offers some insight into exactly how gas could help
the world bridge to a low carbon future.
Gas as a bridge fuel
It might seem odd that climate policy could lead to
increased use of fossil fuels. But, say UKERC, putting a price on
carbon would initially push gas use up, not down.
The UKERC report uses economic modelling to look at
the effect of introducing a carbon tax on the world's energy mix.
As gas produces less carbon dioxide than burning coal, pricing
carbon would make gas cheaper than coal, pushing gas use up at
How gas use rises with various carbon prices: the black line
is with no carbon tax, the yellow line corresponds with a two
degree target, UKERC says.