Renewable energy broken? Future world fears to fight for natural gas

The United States has become the rescue team for the natural gas crisis in European countries, and hundreds of ships are running back and forth on the North Atlantic route. In the future, this wave of natural gas fleets will be even larger. The United States said it will cooperate with other suppliers to deliver an additional 15 billion cubic meters of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to the EU in 2022, and to supply 50 billion cubic meters of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Europe every year before 2030. .

The United States will deliver about 22 billion cubic meters of natural gas to Europe in 2021. In the first quarter of this year, 12 billion cubic meters of natural gas have been delivered. Biden said that this year is 15 billion cubic meters more than last year, equal to 37 billion cubic meters a year. meter. 15 billion cubic meters of LNG is a large number, equivalent to one-sixth of Germany’s annual gas demand, but an increase of 15 billion cubic meters will not replace Europe’s imports of Russian gas, which supplied Europe with 155 billion last year Cubic meters of natural gas, most of which are transported by pipelines, and liquefied natural gas only account for one-tenth.

Could U.S. gas action help wean Europe from Russia? An article in the “Financial Times” pointed out that the United States is fully capable of helping Europe, because domestic production began to surge after the 2016 shale gas revolution in the United States. In December last year, the United States’ LNG exports exceeded competitors Qatar and Australia for the first time. In just six years, it has become the world’s largest exporter of natural gas. A sharp surge in European gas prices will attract more U.S. exports, which are set to add more capacity in the coming years as the world turns to natural gas as an excess energy source in the transition to clean energy.

Now the United States and European countries are actively building natural gas transmission terminals, but environmental experts worry that switching to LNG will be a disaster for the environment, tantamount to the risk that countries around the world will lock themselves in LNG for decades to come. . The main reason is the return on investment, as building LNG terminals is costly and takes years, and investors in these projects need to be assured that the transition to wind and solar will not render these fossil fuel assets obsolete within a decade .

In particular, LNG in the United States is particularly polluting. Two-thirds of natural gas extraction in the United States is extracted by pumping a mixture of water, sand and chemicals into rock at high pressure, a process known as hydraulic fracturing, which releases huge amounts of methane into the atmosphere. name pollution. Methane is many times more effective than carbon dioxide in warming, Stanford University research has found that methane leaks are six times greater than previously thought, and U.S. natural gas is more polluting than Russian natural gas and may even be dirtier than coal.

The United States also made a grandiose excuse, saying that the ultimate goal of expanding natural gas development and supply is still to switch to renewable energy, but it should let Europe get rid of Russian natural gas first, and then let Europe stop using natural gas completely. An expert from E3G, a European energy think tank, admitted that Europe does need natural gas, but importing U.S. natural gas runs counter to climate initiatives, arguing that importing U.S. LNG is not a long-term solution.

The United States accelerates supply to crowd out Russian exports, and the natural gas market will face a major reshuffle, and there may also be shortages. Failure to create suitable renewable alternatives for gas and heating in Europe in the future could boost demand for an already tight global LNG market in the short to medium term, at which point wealthy Europe and wealthy Asia will have to pay, the report said. Fight for limited LNG.

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