By replacing coal, gas can ‘cut carbon as well as costs’

Posted on 07 November 2013 by Tom Grimwood

Using gas to replace coal could cut carbon emissions as well as energy costs, according to Alex Barnes (pictured left), Head of Regulatory Affairs for Gazprom Marketing Trading.  

Speaking at Energy Live 2013 today, he questioned whether the cost of government subsidies for renewables was a “price worth paying for decarbonisation” and if there was a “cheaper way of doing it”, adding “I think there is”.

Asked what the solution was, he responded – unsurprisingly and much to the amusement of the audience – “basically the answer gas”.

According to Mr Barnes the UK currently uses on average only 30% of its gas-fired generation capacity. He said by pushing that figure to 75% and displacing the use of coal – which he described as a “filthy fuel” – Britain could still meet its decarbonisation targets. He added a recent expansion in the use of coal had “wiped out” any gains made with renewables. 

Mr Barnes said the UK could switch to renewables later, when “hopefully they are cheaper”.

He was backed up by Matt Smith, Global Commodity Analyst for Schneider Electric, who pushed shale gas as the answer: “The US has the lowest emissions since the mid-90s and the reason for that isn’t because it’s trying to be altruistic or something. It was because of shale.”

Mr Smith said coal now made up around 30% of the energy mix in America – down from 50% in 2008 – having been muscled out by cheap shale gas.

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