One of Canada’s greatest contributions to global emissions reductions can be our LNG

July 22, 2020

Countries around the world are switching from more polluting fuel sources to natural gas to help cut air pollution and reduce their carbon emissions. Canada can help meet this growing global demand with the lowest emission liquefied natural gas (LNG) available.

LNG projects in B.C.  will have the among the lowest GHG emissions of any LNG facilities in the world because of the province’s strict environmental regulations that limit emissions, access to a clean hydro energy grid, and high-efficiency operations.

In fact, Canada’s ability to develop natural gas with lower emissions was recognized in the environmental assessment for the proposed Tacoma LNG facility, which determined that the natural gas to supply the facility should only come from B.C. because of the strict regulations, technology and clean electricity combine to produce natural gas with five to eight times fewer emissions than natural gas produced in the U.S.

Natural gas also helps countries use renewable energy by acting as a backup for renewable energy. Intermittent solar and wind energy need a reliable source of energy, like natural gas, to provide backup energy when solar and wind energy just aren’t available.

Canada can lead the world in low emission LNG

LNG projects located in B.C. will have at least half or less the emissions intensity of other LNG projects that supply LNG globally.

As a result, Canada has the opportunity to become a global centre of excellence for electric LNG facilities. Electric drive turbines significantly reduce the total greenhouse gas emissions of an LNG project when they are powered by clean electricity, such as British Columbia’s clean hydroelectric power.

The Kitimat LNG project is proposing to construct the world’s first all-electric LNG plant powered by renewable hydroelectric power from BC Hydro. This design eliminates the need for natural gas-powered turbines. This will make it the lowest emissions intensity of any large-scale LNG facility in the world.

In Delta, B.C., FortisBC began shipping containers of LNG produced with hydroelectric power and low emissions to Asia in 2017. Industrial customers in China using FortisBC’s LNG are displacing higher carbon-intensive fuels and reducing GHG emissions intensity from 30 to 50 per cent, depending on end-use.

Using emissions data from sources such as the Pembina Institute’s B.C. Shale Scenario Tool, the lifecycle analysis completed by University of Calgary researcher Adebola Kasumu shows global GHG emissions could be reduced by up to 800,000 tonnes per year with LNG exported from FortisBC’s Tilbury facility to industrial consumers in China.  This is equivalent to removing 170,000 vehicles from the road each year. In fact, LNG from Canada’s Tilbury LNG facility achieves 25 per cent more GHG emissions reductions than if it came from LNG facilities on the U.S. Gulf Coast.

The emissions intensity from the Woodfibre LNG facility near Squamish, B.C. will substantially lower compared to other global LNG facilities: just 16 per cent of the global average.

The replacement of coal-fired electricity with natural gas-fired electricity generation using LNG from Woodfibre LNG will contribute to a substantial reduction of GHG emissions. According to peer-reviewed data published in the Journal of Cleaner Production (February 2020), using LNG from the Woodfibre LNG facility for electricity generation, instead of coal, would result in an estimated 45 per cent GHG emissions reduction compared to an equivalent amount of coal-fired electricity generation.

This is equivalent to the annual emissions from over 700,000 vehicles or a full 76 years of the annual emissions from the District of Squamish, the nearest community to Woodfibre LNG.

Woodfibre LNG facility’s emissions represent just 0.2 per cent of British Columbia’s entire annual emissions. The offset of emissions from the replacement of coal overseas will be equivalent to 5 per cent of British Columbia’s annual emissions.

Research conducted for the LNG Canada, a $40 billion LNG facility under construction near  Kitimat, B.C. demonstrates that our own liquified natural gas exports to China will emit approximately 35 per cent to 55 per cent fewer greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than China’s prevailing energy source – domestic coal. The largest GHG reductions realized in China from Canadian LNG will come from displacing coal in residential heating (56 per cent), followed by electricity generation (52 per cent), and industrial heat generation (36 per cent)

According to research by the Delphi Group, for every tonne of CO2e emitted in the LNG supply chain in B.C., seven tonnes of CO2e will be reduced when a fuel source is switched from coal to gas.

Proven track record in methane regulation means emission reductions

B.C. is a world leader when it comes to reducing methane emissions when we produce natural gas. Facilities such as Shell’s Groundbirch natural-gas plant near Fort St. John, B.C. have already achieved zero-emission well pads by finding and eliminating fugitive methane leaks and powering the sites with solar energy and renewable electricity from B.C. Hydro.

Major research initiatives are underway to improve our knowledge and to find innovative solutions, using the newest technologies to detect and manage methane emissions, including fugitive emissions.

Canada’s opportunity 

Canada has an opportunity to be a global leader in providing the lowest-emission LNG to meet global demand and sharing our clean LNG technology with the world.

If we do not develop LNG in B.C., we miss out on this opportunity. We also miss out on the opportunity to add value to our already responsibly produced natural gas by creating new jobs, business and training opportunities here in Canada.

We have every reason to develop an LNG industry in Canada, including reducing global emissions, providing the world with cleaner air to breathe and providing opportunities across the nation, including opportunities for Indigenous communities..

This is our opportunity Canada. Let’s build it, together.

Bryan Cox, President and CEO, BC LNG Alliance