European Commission proposals to label some natural gas projects as “green investments” have stirred public debate recently and divided EU member states, but there is a very sensible undertone to this move that should sway critics of this vital transition fuel to finally embrace its benefits. 

Zeynep Harezi Yılmaz, Chief Commercial Officer, Karpowership

Zeynep Harezi Yılmaz, Chief Commercial Officer, Karpowership

Source: Karpowership

As we enter a new year, the climate change crisis is very much in focus, but energy security is an increasing concern and more countries are turning to natural gas and LNG to meet their supply needs. Also, as nations set ambitious emissions targets and goals, we must recognise that not all are currently able to commit full-scale investment into renewable alternatives. Because of these reasons – we must now enhance the adoption of suitable transitional fuels to help our journey to net zero.

Even more alarming and something that should further support this case is the recent report from the International Energy Agency which found, as we face increasing energy supply challenges, the world’s use of coal is increasing. After falling in 2019 and 2020, power generation from coal was expected to have risen 9% in 2021 – and the report finds one of the reasons is because low-carbon supplies cannot keep up with demand. The IEA found coal demand could reach an all-time high as soon as 2022. Having to revert to using heavier fossil fuels is not a position the world wants to find itself in.

It’s widely recognised, that LNG produces far less carbon dioxide than oil and coal, and other countries outside of Europe are already heavily invested. South Korea has been prioritising the reduction of coal consumption and in the process will now classify LNG as a “green fuel”, albeit temporarily. As one of the world’s biggest importers of LNG, the nation has recognised they can utilise the fuel to reduce coal-based power production while also aiding the transition to renewables. 

Japan is another country which has adopted LNG efficiently and effectively. In the aftermath of the Fukishima disaster, a concerted effort to move away from nuclear power has seen a rise in demand for natural gas and therefore reduced reliance on coal.

FSRU in Dakar

FSRU in Dakar

Source: Karpowership

Significantly, it has been reported the EU proposals state, “it is necessary to recognise that the fossil gas… can contribute to the decarbonisation of the Union’s economy.” Having a regional bloc, as large and as influential as the EU, take this stance is game changing. If these proposals are agreed, it will greenlight more global investment in natural gas projects that align with ambitions to decarbonise the economy. Something our company, Karpowership, has been prioritising for many years. 

The proposals, along with the other examples I’ve mentioned, give the natural gas industry license to finally fulfil its important role in the energy transition. These steps go a long way to creating a more favourable view of LNG-to-power projects around the world – including our own. 

This turning of the tide couldn’t come at a more important time. Lowering our emissions profile is front and centre of Karpowership’s decision-making process, along with our mission to ensure everyone in the world has access to reliable power. Because of this mission, we recognise those markets that would benefit from developing their LNG infrastructure to solve not only urgent electricity needs, but also lead them away from heavier fossil fuels. 

Shifting the opinion of natural gas means continents like Africa, where our company has numerous LNG-to-Power projects underway, will finally feel it can really harness the benefits of LNG as a transitional fuel. African nations will be assured of international support for their energy transition goals and hopefully more overseas investment in the sector will follow. 

There is no doubt in our mind that natural gas is central to advancing universal access to electricity and securing a global energy transition that is sensible, well-planned and addresses the threat of climate change. With this prospect of EU “green” gas proposals becoming a reality, we’ve reached an important moment for the future of LNG – let’s not waste this crucial momentum on our race to net zero.

About the author

Zeynep Harezi Yılmaz joined Karpowership as a Regional Director and led the operation of the world’s first floating power plant (Powership) project in Iraq. Now, as Chief Commercial Officer, she manages all current and new business development. Karpowership owns and operates 36 Powerships around the world with an installed capacity of 6000 MW.