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SUMMARY

Asian economies are still the most reliant on coal for most of their energy needs.

By NGW

Natural gas can help decarbonise Asian economies – still the most reliant on coal for most of their energy needs – but key considerations will be affordability, security of supply and sustainability, according to panelists on the early plenary session at WGC2022 Thursday morning.

Yalan Li, chair of Beijing Gas Group, said affordability and security of supply are among the most important considerations for China as it moves to increase the share of natural gas in its energy mix from 9% in 2021.

Facing 6% economic growth annually, China’s energy consumption will continue to grow, and fossil fuels – mostly coal – account for about 80% of its energy mix.
China has set a target of achieving carbon neutrality before 2060 – earning a “poor” evaluation from Climate Action Tracker – and if the country is to achieve even that goal, Li said, “it is most logical to decarbonise” the fossil fuels it uses.

By 2025, she said, China is targeting natural gas consumption of 430bn m3, up from 370bn m3 in 2021. By 2030, it aspires to consume 600bn m3 on the way to as much as 688bn m3 by 2050, when it will account for more than half of all the natural gas demand in Asia.

At the same time, coal use is coming down, falling to below 56% in 2021. By 2030, according to China National Petroleum Corporation, coal’s share will fall to 44%, while natural gas will supply 12% of the nation’s energy.

But the price of natural gas in Asia is far higher than elsewhere, and shortages – especially in winter – are common. Despite these challenges, Li said, increased natural gas use remains a policy priority in China.

On the same panel, Jeong Joon Yu, vice chair and CEO of Korean energy provider SK E&S, said increased natural gas use in many Asian economies remains economically challenging. Developed countries, he said, should be doing more to provide appropriate financial supports to help Asia get off coal and on to more sustainable energy sources, including natural gas.

This feature first appeared in the daily newspaper of the World Gas Conference 2022, which took place in Daegu, South Korea, between May 23 and 27, 2022.