The role of natural gas in the Asia-Pacific energy transition

The Asia Natural Gas & Energy Association (ANGEA) was formed in 2021 to assist in the region’s transition from generating energy using high-carbon fuels. Operating in Singapore, ANGEA works with government, society and industry to create integrated energy policies. Gas Processing & LNG had the opportunity to speak with Paul Everingham, Chief Executive for ANGEA, about the association’s role in the Asia-Pacific energy transition.

In Southeast Asia, coal-fired and diesel-fired power generation are still significant parts of the energy and electricity systems. ANGEA believes that gas must play a significant role in the region’s future.

"We like to think that gas will play a much greater role as these countries decarbonize over the next 10 yr–50 yr," Everingham said. "If they are going to be able to use renewable power in those countries, they will require baseload backup generation, we think, the lowest form baseline, lowest carbon dioxide form of baseload energy, in Southeast Asia will be gas. We are working with those Southeast Asian countries on what their roadmap looks like in terms of lowering their emissions."

Due to parts of the region lacking the gas reserves of the rest of the world, energy security is less certain and much easier to disrupt than in other regions. "America had its massive economic expansion period, in the early, mid and late 20th century, China had their urban economic expansion around the late 1990s," Everingham said.

"South and Southeast Asia are just starting to have their economic, industrial revolutions. All the globe's energy growth over the next 30 yr–40 yr will predominantly come from South and Southeast Asia; the rest of the world's energy demand stays consistent over this period. The growth in energy demand will come from the more than 1-B people in this region."

The ANGEA believes it is time for a regional policy and advocacy body to advocate for a sensible and just transition as these emerging economies become tertiary. "We want to be a trusted adviser and partner in helping these countries modernize their energy and electricity systems and enable Asia to continue to grow and not harm their economic development because that is lifting many people out of poverty," he said.

"We see a role for our organization to help them build and plan for affordable, reliable and sustainable energy systems. We have started work with Thailand already, and we are starting work with Indonesia later this year, and then we will look at other countries like Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia."

With India’s massive population, ANGEA plans to assist with accelerating the transition away from coal and have complementary technology like carbon capture and storage and renewable power generation. "India has its own significant domestic coal reserves, and its use for electricity in India is still very dominant. I believe 80% of their electricity grid is coal fired. At the moment, gas is quite expensive, so India keeps using coal because it is more affordable," Everingham said.

"If Asia does not meet their emission commitments, it does not matter what the rest of the world does. There are just too many people and too many emissions."

According to Everingham, hydrogen (H2) and ammonia have the potential to play a significant role as well. "I do not think H2 is going to become affordable and available overnight magically; however, many of our members are already working on using ammonia in their electricity systems," he said.

"All our members are investing in ammonia in some way, and ultimately, potentially H2 use. We see a big role for ammonia throughout Asia, and it might be used in conjunction with coal initially to lower coal power plant emissions. Eventually, the coal-fired power plants can be converted to ammonia, and further down the track, a H2 power plant. Due to people investing a lot of time and money into it, it will become more available and affordable."

Story by: Tyler Campbell, Managing Editor, H2Tech

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