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Natural gas for electricity
By 2050 the world’s population is expected to reach 9 billion, up from around 7 billion today. Combined with rising living standards, this is likely to double energy demand. At the same time, CO2 emissions must cut significantly to avoid the most serious effects of climate change. Cleaner burning natural gas is the cheapest and fastest way for most countries to meet their growing need for energy while curbing CO2.
Natural gas is the cleanest-burning fossil fuel. Combined with capturing CO2 from industry and power plants to store underground (CCS) and backing up renewable energy, natural gas will be a vital part of the sustainable global energy mix.
Natural gas, part of a cleaner energy future
Natural gas has many benefits and is an essential part of a cleaner energy future.
From the extraction of the fuel to the generation of electricity, modern gas-fired power plants emit around half the CO2 of modern coal plants.
Natural gas is also the preferred fuel for combined cycle heat and power plants because it is densely packed with energy that is released when burned. In these plants the heat produced from generating electricity is used for industrial or domestic heating, raising overall efficiency.
A perfect partner for wind and solar
Renewable energy sources could supply up to 30% of the of the global energy supply by 2050. But wind and solar can only provide intermittent power, as the wind drops or the sun goes down. Fortunately natural gas can provide flexible back-up power – since it can quickly ramp up and down – allowing more plants to also integrate wind and solar. Thanks to the back-up it provides, natural gas can help the world to move towards greater use of renewable energies.
Cheaper and quicker
Building the world’s largest gas to liquids plant, Pearl GTL, in Qatar
New natural gas plants are much cheaper and quicker to build than any other source of electricity including coal, nuclear, wind or solar. Natural gas capacity is faster and less costly to install than any other new source of electricity. Longer term, fitting gas plants with CCS is as cheap – or even cheaper – than for coal, and less storage space would be needed thanks to the lower CO2 emissions.
Opening up new resources
At Shell we continue to use advanced technologies and an innovative approach to unlock more natural gas resources to help meet global energy demand.
Across the world, in North America, China, Australia and the Ukraine, we are exploring for and producing natural gas trapped tightly in dense rock pores up to 20,000 times narrower than a human hair.
In Qatar we are making steady progress in increasing production at the world’s largest gas-to-liquids plant, Pearl GTL, which converts natural gas into cleaner-burning fuels and other products. We are also now exploring a potential GTL plant on the US Gulf Coast.
Turning natural gas into liquid fuels for transport helps to open up new resources. We continue to invest in building liquefied natural gas (LNG) supplies. And we are pioneering a way of producing and liquefying gas at sea rather than piping it to land in a project we call Floating LNG.