Lompat ke konten Lompat ke sidebar Lompat ke footer

Why Does Liquid Natural Gas Exacerbate the Climate Crisis?

The European Union now relies on imports of liquefied natural gas from the US and Qatar to replace Russian gas. This trend is considered to hamper Europe's climate commitments in the long term. Why is that?

As the first tanker docked at a newly opened liquefied natural gas terminal in northern Germany, climate activists warned of a major backsliding in climate commitments. 

Import of liquefied natural gas or LNG is the way out that Germany has chosen to remove dependence on Russian gas supplies. Much of this LNG is mined by the controversial hydraulic fracturing technique in the US or via offshore platforms in Qatar.

Analysts criticized that LNG imports would not be able to meet Germany's gas deficit until after 2024. They also cast doubt on the government's claim in Berlin that the new LNG terminal could be converted to store green hydrogen in the future. 

The biggest problem with LNG is the amount of emissions that is 10 times greater than gas that has so far been supplied through pipelines. The energy demand for LNG mainly comes from storage and transportation.

High cost of liquefied gas

LNG is natural gas that is liquefied through a liquefaction process, by cooling the gas to a temperature of minus 161 degrees Celsius. In its liquid state, gas is reduced by 600 times in volume and is half the weight of water.

In this way, natural gas, which is mostly composed of methane, can be stored in special tanks on ships and shipped around the world. After arriving at the destination, the gas will be processed back to its original form at the terminal and distributed through pipes.

Even though it is supported by the ease of technology, the high costs of the mining and liquefaction processes have made LNG so far less attractive. Germany, which previously did not have LNG port and storage facilities, for example, had to bear the double cost of building imported liquefied gas infrastructure.

Moreover, the process of cooling, liquefying, transporting and regaphysizing LNG consumes large amounts of energy. "Between 10 and 25 percent of energy is lost during the liquefaction process," said Andy Gheorghiu, an energy analyst in Germany.

High emission footprint

Huge amounts of energy are also required to mine gas. Not to mention, the potential for methane gas leaks along the production, supply and distribution chains to consumers, will also weigh on the climate balance of LNG.

"Because LNG requires more complicated procedures and transportation, the risk of methane gas leakage along the production, transportation and regasification chain is much greater and is therefore very emission intensive," Gheorghiu added.

According to calculations by the US environmental NGO Natural Resources Defense Council (NDRC), LNG creates "twice as much greenhouse gas as natural gas normally supplied by pipelines."

A similar estimate was also conveyed by the energy analysis agency, Rystad Energy. According to the Norwegian think-tank, the liquefaction and transportation process of LNG creates 10 times the carbon dioxide emissions compared to natural gas supplied through pipelines.

Kaushal Ramesh, energy analyst at Rystad, told DW that the various processing stages of LNG account for "very high emission intensities." These "imported" emissions will later have an impact on the national climate balance.

Moreover, LNG creates emissions 14 times greater than solar energy and 50 times that of wind energy at the same intensity.

Therefore, liquefied natural gas cannot be considered as a climate friendly solution. "By investing in increasing the efficiency of houses and buildings alone, Germany can save more gas than the new LNG terminal can offer," concluded Andy Gheorghiu.