LONDON // Natural gas will become an increasingly important energy source in coming decades, says the chief executive of Royal Dutch Shell. "Natural gas has a key role to play. It provides a low-cost pathway to clean electricity," Peter Voser told the Oil and Money conference yesterday in the British capital. Environmentalists often snub gas as a non-renewable fossil fuel associated with greenhouse gas emissions, although it produces less emissions than arise from the burning of oil or coal. It will be needed to meet global energy demand that is expected to double in the first part of this century while governments seek to limit climate change, Mr Voser argued.
"There are three reasons for the increasing importance of gas: the supplies are more abundant and available than in the past; gas-fired power plants are the least costly and most efficient; and the environmental benefits are tangible, substantial and immediate," he said. Moreover, there may be enough gas in the ground for more than 250 years of supply at current rates of use. Mr Voser urged the UK government to support gas-fired power generation combined with carbon capture and storage (CCS) as the most cost-effective method available for reducing the industrial carbon dioxide emissions that have been linked with global warming. The UK would not meet its 2020 target for emissions reduction without gas, he said.
"Gas replacing coal is the surest, fastest and biggest way to reduce carbon dioxide emissions over the next 10 years," Mr Voser said. "Governments should throw their weight behind replacing coal with gas. "The combination of natural gas and CCS could be cost-effective: cheaper than coal with CCS and cheaper than offshore wind, which would cost three and a half times as much as gas with CCS," he said.
The UK government is subsidising a huge offshore wind-power development programme. Last month, the world's biggest offshore wind park was inaugurated off the southeast coast of England. firstname.lastname@example.org