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Gas Infrastructure Sustainability FAQ Glossary
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FAQ  
 
   
A. Natural Gas
B. Liquefied Natural Gas
C. Gas transportation and gas storage
 
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A. Natural Gas
1. What is natural gas?
2. What is methane?
3. What is shale gas?
4. Why does natural gas smell bad?
5. How can you say that gas supply is secure? Given ´09 supply crisis? Doesn´t a reliance on gas lead to dependence on 3rd country suppliers?
6. How will gas make a clean future real?
7. Doesn´t lifecycle analysis show that gas has a significant ecological footprint?
8. Isn´t gas a fossil fuel? How will promoting gas help tackle climate change and/ or achieve a low carbon economy? How is gas different to other fossil fuels?
9. Won´t promoting gas lead to a lock in of fossil fuels?
10. Does CCS work? Is it commercially viable?
11. Why do you say that gas is the ideal partner for Renewables?
12. How can gas contribute to energy efficiency?
13. Why are you calling for more investment in gas?
14. What are you calling on policy makers to do?
   
1. What is natural gas?
  Natural gas is in fact generally a mixture of gases formed from the fossil remains of plants and animals and is the cleanest burning hydrocarbon fuel. The main component of natural gas is methane which is odourless and colourless. Natural gas is used for a variety of applications including power generation, transport and heating. Natural gas can also be converted to a liquid form, for example Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), to help with transport or storage, or to fuel transport.
   
2. What is methane?
  Methane is a molecule made up of one carbon atom and four hydrogen atoms. Its chemical formula is CH4.
   
3. What is shale gas?
  Shale gas is natural gas that is trapped within shale rock formations. Shales are fine-grained sedimentary rocks that can be rich in oil and natural gas. In the past decade, particularly in the United States, horizontal drilling combined with hydraulic fracturing has allowed access to large reservoirs of shale gas, completely transforming the country´s natural gas industry and energy supply dynamics. Europe is estimated to have nearly as much technically recoverable shale gas as the United States.
   
4. Why does natural gas smell bad?
  Natural gas is odourless, but an artificial odorant is added to enable detection in the event of a leak
   
5. How can you say that gas supply is secure? Given ´09 supply crisis? Doesn´t a reliance on gas lead to dependence on 3rd country suppliers?
  Security of supply is about diversity of sources and routes, not energy independence. Gas provides Europe with security through diversity of supply – there are abundant reserves and Europe has ready access to any sources including Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) from around the world.
   
6. How will gas make a clean future real?
  Gas brings immediate reductions in carbon emissions, enables renewable energy sources and will contribute to a low carbon economy. It is the cleanest hydrocarbon fuel and is a secure and reliable energy source, essential to delivering the EU´s climate and energy goals.
Gas does not pollute the air with sulphur dioxide (SO2) or ash and dust particles to which carcinogenic substances attach, and during its combustion natural gas produces only thermal nitrogen oxides, so that its NOx emissions are just 25-30 % of those for coal, or 30-40 % of those for liquid fuels. In terms of carbon monoxide, emissions from burning natural gas are two orders of magnitude lower than in the case of coal, and its CO2 emissions are also 40-50 % less than those of solid fuels, and 30-35 % lower than for liquid fuels.
   
7. Doesn´t lifecycle analysis show that gas has a significant ecological footprint?
  Natural gas has a proven potential to reduce CO2 emissions. A recent study by the think tank IHS CERA calculated that Europe could achieve a 58% cut in emissions relative to 1990 levels by converting all coal and oil fired power generation to best performance combined cycle gas turbines. Gas also contributes to significantly decreasing particulate matter pollution, which has a proven negative impact on health and quality of life.
   
8. Isn´t gas a fossil fuel? How will promoting gas help tackle climate change and/ or achieve a low carbon economy? How is gas different to other fossil fuels?
  Gas is indeed a fossil fuel, but it is the cleanest hydrocarbon fuel. It produces much less CO2 or harmful emissions (including particulate emissions) than other hydrocarbon fuels.
   
9. Won´t promoting gas lead to a lock in of fossil fuels?
  Gas gives you options. Capital costs of gas fired power are lowest per MW installed, leading to the lowest lock in. A build-out of natural gas fired power before 2030 could transition into a backup role for renewable post 2030, this would be much more economic than building dedicated backup for renewable capacity after 2030.
   
10. Does CCS work? Is it commercially viable?
  Pilots show that CCS works. The process is based on capturing carbon dioxide from large point sources, such as power plants and storing it in such a way that it does not enter the atmosphere. Total is for example testing the first complete industrial-scale CCS chain in Europe at the moment, which should lead to around 120,000 tonnes of CO2 to be captured and stored by 2012.
Recent analysis shows that CCS plus gas is very competitive and in fact potentially much more cost effective than a number of other low carbon technologies.
   
11. Why do you say that gas is the ideal partner for Renewables?
  Gas enables renewables. Power supply from renewables can be variable and this can cause grid instability, whereas gas can provide back-up capacity to balance out variability. Natural gas is the ideal grid balancing resource as it is easy to store and can respond swiftly to sharp load and demand changes on the power grid.
   
12. How can gas contribute to energy efficiency?
  Gas can help improve energy efficiency in power generation, heating and transport. For example the use of combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) plants can increase thermal efficiency rates in power generation and, at home, small scale combined heat and power systems powered by gas also bring increased energy efficiency.
   
13. Why are you calling for more investment in gas?
  A predictable and stable long-term investment framework requires clear political signals. It is clear that investment in gas infrastructure is needed to achieve the internal energy market and to meet Europe´s climate targets, in its recent infrastructure package for example the Commission estimated that investment volumes for the period from 2011 up to 2020 will increase by 30% for gas compared to current levels. ENTSO-G has estimated that €89.3 billion will be needed to make the necessary changes in gas infrastructure.
   
14. What are you calling on policy makers to do?
  To make low-carbon Europe a reality, energy policies need to acknowledge and confirm the key role of gas now and in the long term.