All human activity and prosperity are based on the use of energy – therefore, access to energy is essential. It is fundamentally wrong to talk about “green energy”. Any use of energy gives some form of environmental impact – the only “green energy” is the one you have not used. Consequently, energy efficiency is an important means for reducing the environmental impact of our activities. In addition to efficiency, we also have to invest in energy solutions that provide the lowest possible environmental impact – both locally and globally.
There is a broad acceptance for that our activities and emissions cause harmful effects on the environment – and there is a special focus on greenhouse gases and global warming. It is also a general opinion that it is urgent to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases before the concentration in the atmosphere reaches a point where the progress towards a warmer planet will be difficult to reverse.
When natural gas replaces other fossil fuels (e.g. oil), the greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced by about 30 % – with immediate effect. Other emissions that damage the health and vegetation – are almost eliminated. Thus, conversion to natural gas provides an important contribution to less environmentally harmful energy supplies.
The Norwegian energy- and environmental debate has been charged with a number of myths – one of them is that that bio energy will reduce the CO2 emissions by 100 %. It would be nice if the solution was that simple, but this is unfortunately a “truth” with a significant need for modifications. The fact is that bio energy (when used) emits about as much CO2 as coal per kWh. Unlike coal, however, the CO2 from bio energy will quickly be caught up in the cycle- and can often be regarded as carbon neutral. The faster absorption of CO2 – the better for the climate. Several researchers from acknowledged research communities (SSB- Statistics Norway, Klif- The Climate and Pollution Agency, NTNU – Norwegian University of Science and Technology etc.) have recently pointed out that the repayment period for CO2 (the time until a new amount of bio energy has taken up CO2 from the bio energy used as fuel), will be crucial for whether we can reckon this energy as climate neutral. Quick-growing crops such as straw will then be climate neutral, while traditional wood-burning will not. Nor should one forget that wood- burning provides significant local environmental impacts in the form of dust/ particles and other harmful emissions.
Consequently, it is important to distinguish between different forms of bio energy – in the same way to distinguish between fossil fuels. The best form for bio energy is biogas – the same way as natural gas is the best form for fossil energy.
Gasnor believes it is important and appropriate to focus on natural gas because:
- Natural gas reduces harmful emissions today – with immediate effect
- Natural gas saves the Norwegian industry and Norwegian jobs
- Natural gas as fuel for ships is necessary to meet our commitments to NOx reductions
- Natural gas will facilitate the introduction of biogas (and hydrogen)