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Australia could make its gas grid completely emission-free by 2050, a new report compiled by Energy Networks Australia has suggested. According to the report, the shift to zero emissions will be made possible by combining renewable energy generation with decarbonized gas—a group name for biogas, hydrogen, and carbon capture and storage.
The report is based on research data from Deloitte Access Economics, and it stands in contrast to most other zero-carbon grid modeling researchers that plan on a gradual total phase-out of gas in favor of solar, wind, and hydropower. Instead of this approach, the ENA modeling has gas replaced by solar and wind-produced hydrogen fuel, to be used in existing gas networks for heating and cooking.
According to ENA, the more traditional approach that relies on a shift from gas power generation to renewables is costlier and less practical. It would involve a lot of additional electricity, which will in turn necessitate upgrades to electricity generation capacity as well as transmission and distribution networks, plus investment in energy storage.
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As a case in point, ENA points to the state of Victoria. According to it, gas currently provides 69 percent of the state’s household energy supply. If Victoria switches from gas-fired plants to 100-percent renewable energy, this would cause a two- to threefold increase in peak electricity demand during the winter.
On the other hand, repurposing the gas network for hydrogen fuel will be much less costly, not to mention the added benefit of having the capacity to store surplus electricity produced by wind and solar installations, which will address the intermittent nature of renewable energy generation. Another bonus would be the fact that the hydrogen produced through electrolysis from renewable sources could boost the integration of solar and wind energy into the market, the report said.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.