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Is BC LNG part of the solution?

How clean would BC LNG be, compared to other sources of power?

Life Cycle Analyses (LCAs) examine and compare the long-term emissions implications for energy systems from their source to their use as energy. This means analyzing the emissions from every step of the process required to generate the energy. To do this effectively, LCAs need to explicitly state elements of the life cycle assessed, to ensure that comparisons between LCAs for different energy resources are undertaken using the same assumptions (on an “apples-to-apples” basis). The UBC advisor on Research and Industry Partnerships delivered a presentation to the FNCI on LNG LCAs in December 2019.

The LNG Emissions Benchmarking report, produced for the BC Climate Action Secretariat, finds that “an LNG facility in BC using grid electricity with an emission factor of 200tCO2e/GWh could have the lowest GHG intensity of production compared to all [LNG] facilities surveyed.“ And according to PACE Global Energy, “Emissions from the average of existing coal-fired power plants in the five LNG export markets were determined to be approximately 139% to 148% greater on a life cycle basis than the most emissions-intensive case (High GHG Case) for LNG“ (for details see here).

According to the International Energy Agency, “electrifying the liquefaction process using low-carbon electricity can eliminate nearly all of the emissions associated with the LNG process. Electrified LNG would provide a 40% reduction in GHG emissions from coal-to-gas switching compared to conventional LNG (for details see here). BC LNG offers even more profound GHG reductions than other LNG facilities (like the Snøhvit facility in Norway or the Freeport LNG facility in Texas) because BC LNG would be powered by renewable electricity, rather electricity generated by power sources of higher GHG intensity.

Based on these reports it is evident that LNG, particularly electrified LNG, has a significantly reduced GHG footprint compared to coal energy, which persists as a major global energy source. In practice, this potential is manifesting through Tilbury LNG and LNG Canada projects. Both operations have conducted analyses of their facilities’ emissions implications (see links above) and have validated that BC LNG is the cleanest in the world.

The international strategy that has the potential to cap temperature increases at 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels depends on the use of LNG for several decades to come. Here, gas is a bridging fuel in a global energy transition which achieves zero emissions by 2050. Gas will be produced to address this market. The question is, where will the gas come from and will it be gas with the lowest GHG footprint available globally?