The role of natural gas as an enabler in the energy transition while underpinning economic activity will be an important theme in the international energy discussion in the years ahead, the President of the International Gas Union (IGU) HE Joe M. Kang said.
Speaking at the 50th edition of the GECF Gas Lecture Series, entitled “A Clean, Secure, and Affordable Energy Future Requires Electricity, Gas, and Infrastructure”, HE Kang, who holds a Ph.D. in Petroleum Engineering and who has led the 90-year-old IGU for Korea’s 2018-2021 triennium presidency, argued that only by marshalling a collective effort that the world can guarantee a prosperous and secure future.
“The (climate change) debate in recent years has been intense and loud, but the world has not come far in aligning on an approach that enables us to meet the enormous challenges of decarbonisation, energy access and energy security. It will require a clarity of purpose and approach that has been lacking to date, but we have to settle on an approach that delivers clean, secure and affordable energy,” said HE Kang.
The economic and environmental value of natural gas in a sustainable energy future against the backdrop of a groundswell of anxiety about climate change was also touched upon the GECF Secretary General HE Yury Sentyurin.
“Climate action is not a zero-sum game. There isn’t a low-cost alternative yet for heating industrial buildings, producing electricity, cooking meals, riding a motor vehicle, transporting maritime cargo, boarding an airplane. The existing renewable energy sources like wind, sun, and water cannot yet sufficiently replace hydrocarbons. On the other hand, natural gas is abundantly available. It can, in theory, complement the rise of fuels such as hydrogen, via blue hydrogen based on carbon capture, utilisation, and storage (CCUS) technologies,” noted HE Sentyurin.
According to HE Kang, there is recognition that different nations face different challenges and have different means to achieve a pathway toward UN Sustainable Development Goals and the provisions of the Paris Agreement.
“For billions of people in the developing world – with low CO2 per capita and low access to energy – there is no greater challenge than achieving affordable, secure and clean supply of energy. In richer nations – with high CO2 per capita – resources and infrastructure are in place to accelerate decarbonisation,” he said.
“The International Gas Union believes an achievable transition is one that delivers clean, secure and affordable energy, using electrons and natural gas and hydrogen molecules, and the necessary infrastructure to help individual countries meet the UN Sustainable Development and Paris Goals,” explained HE Kang.
The speaker called on all governments to let the energy industry innovators compete to see how best this can be achieved by a variety of means, and in so doing “ensure the greatest opportunities for citizens around the world – the opportunities a just energy transition should provide”.
“No justice will be served if achieving the Paris (Accord) targets involves actions that stymie economic growth and prosperity, or that deny billions of people access to much needed affordable energy and clean cooking fuels. Picking only electrical pathways will lead to lost opportunities, higher costs and a slower transition for millions of people,” he continued.
“The gas industry supplies natural gas to energise all six continents, to enable the scale-up of intermittent renewables, and to produce hydrogen. This puts us at the forefront of environmental innovation to reduce emissions,” asserted HE Kang, whilst adding that IGU represents the gas industry across its entire value-chain with over 160 members in over 80 countries in all continents.
It is noteworthy that since the time of IGU’s establishment in 1931, natural gas has climbed from its minimal use in electricity generation to now meeting almost a quarter of the world’s primary energy needs – providing light, heat and power to billions of people around the world. According to the latest available projections in the GECF’s flagship annual flagship of Global Gas Outlook 2050, natural gas will become the leading source of world’s energy mix from 24% today to 28% by 2050.
The GECF lectures, and workshops and other public events, feature policymakers and experts who share their knowledge and insights on contemporary issues related to the gas industry and its relationship with geopolitics, economy, and climate change. These activities form part of the GECF’s long-term strategy to promote natural gas as the fuel of choice for sustainable development.