Potential Role of Natural Gas Infrastructure in China to Supply Low-carbon Gases During 2020–2050


As natural gas (NG) demand increases in China, the question arises how the NG infrastructure fit into a low greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions future towards 2050. Herein, the potential role of the NG infrastructure in supplying low-carbon gases during 2020–2050 for China at a provincial resolution was analyzed for different scenarios. In total, four low-carbon gases were considered in this study: biomethane, bio-synthetic methane, hydrogen, and low-carbon synthetic methane. The results show that the total potential of low-carbon gas production can increase from 1.21 EJ to 5.25 EJ during 2020–2050, which can replace 20%–67% of the imported gas. In particular, Yunnan and Inner Mongolia contribute 17% of China’s low-carbon gas production. As the deployment of NG infrastructure can be very different, three scenarios replacing imported pipeline NG were found to reduce the expansion of gas infrastructure by 35%–42%, while the three scenarios replacing LNG imports were found to increase infrastructure expansion by 31%–53%, as compared to the base case. The cumulative avoided GHG emissions for the 6 analyzed scenarios were 6.0–8.3 Gt CO2. The GHG avoidance costs were highly influenced by the NG price. This study shows that the NG infrastructure has the potential to supply low-carbon gases in China, thereby significantly reducing GHG emissions and increasing both China’s short- and long-term gas supply independence.

Funding source: This work was supported by the China Scholarship Council and University of Groningen (awarded to Jinrui Zhang for four years of study at the University of Groningen).
Countries: Netherlands

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