While renewables will do the heavy lifting of emissions reduction in a pathway to net zero, gas has a crucial supporting role to play as a lower emissions and flexible firming fuel.
Written by Mark Schubert, Origin Energy Executive General Manager, Integrated Gas
Gas enables switching from emission-intensive sources of energy and supports growth in renewable generation. It’s a flexible firming fuel that can be deployed quickly to provide back-up to renewable generation.
We can and must also start reducing emissions from gas.
We’ve already started on this pathway because we believe that by addressing this today, we can make sure we have the smoothest transition for our industry and the tens of thousands of jobs that it supports.
Our approach is simple:
- Reduce – reduce the emissions from our operations using every option in the toolkit
- Remove – remove carbon from the atmosphere
- Reimagine – developing new products and services such as zero carbon options and renewable fuels to meet our customers’ needs.
In the past three years, we’ve been able to reduce our direct emissions by 30%1 and achieve a methane intensity of less than 0.1% of metered gas sales from our operated areas.
Along with opportunities to upgrade plant and equipment to minimise venting and flaring, we’ve been focused on operational improvements enabled by advanced analytics. We’re applying data, analytics and artificial intelligence to better predict which wells to turn down across the field, which has helped to reduce flaring by 57%.
We also look to reduce other sources of emissions, primarily by using renewable energy to power our operations.
Reducing addresses our direct emissions, but 87% of the emissions from the typical LNG cargo are Scope 3, primarily associated with end use, typically when our customers use the LNG in gas-fired generation.
When we can’t physically reduce carbon emissions, we must find ways to remove an equivalent volume of carbon from the atmosphere.
A simple way to do this today is to purchase offsets. Bu there simply aren’t enough offsets available to help meet a 1.5-degree pathway.
Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is a credible future opportunity to remove emissions, but a lot of work is needed to bring down the cost per tonne of CO2 captured and stored before it becomes a viable option.
We don’t yet have all the answers, but we will continue to explore CCS and other carbon negative technologies.
Making CCS work on a technical and commercial basis will be critical to the longevity of Australia’s gas assets and continued government and industry support will be crucial.
Reducing and removing will make a contribution, but we also need to help our customers by reimagining the energy products we sell them.
Electrification with renewable energy is the biggest step we can take to decarbonise energy. But it’s not enough. Not all countries have the same access to renewable energy that we have. Not all industries can be decarbonised with electrification. In addition to clean electrons, we need clean molecules. Molecules which can be easily and safely transported and substituted into industrial processes.
Hydrogen is a way that we can virtually bottle Australia’s sunshine and ship it anywhere in the world.
With our abundance of great renewable resources, rich heritage in exporting commodities all over the world, world-class technical ability, proximity to Asian markets and established supply chains, Australia is in the box seat to be a global leader in low and zero carbon fuels.
We see significant export demand in Asia from the 2030s – and even sooner from Japan and Korea from the mid-2020s. Origin is looking at export-scale green liquid hydrogen and green ammonia opportunities, using renewable energy and sustainable water resources.
Hydrogen could support Australian industry as well, where renewable fuels could be a significant disrupter of diesel – decarbonising heavy mobility and industry and improving fuel security at the same time.
We’re looking to commence FEED this year on the most advanced of our projects, where Phase 1 is a 300MW, 36ktpa green liquid hydrogen facility in Townsville in Queensland. This year, we’ll also complete a feasibility study for a >500MW green ammonia plant in Tasmania’s Bell Bay that will export more than 420ktpa of green ammonia.
Connecting our customers to the energy and technologies of the future
There’s a massive opportunity for gas and energy companies in Australia to lead the energy transition
Demand for low and zero emissions energy is growing – and there ‘ll be a time in the not-too-distant future when customers for our other commodities will start to demand that supply chains for our metals, our agricultural products or manufactured goods are lower carbon than they are today.
We have an opportunity today to set our industries up to compete in a world where ability to abate is not a nice-to-have, but increasingly a competitive advantage.
Rest assured Origin is up for the challenge.
1 On a 2017 baseline