News | BRG press release

USLNG Greenhouse Gas Emissions Intensity for Power Generation Significantly Lower than Other Leading Fuels

April 17, 2024

Amid mounting energy security challenges and decarbonization efforts, a new report from BRG’s Energy & Climate team finds that US liquified natural gas (USLNG) has the lowest greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions intensity for power generation compared to other leading fossil fuel supply chains, with few exceptions.

The report, Comparative GHG Footprint Analysis for European and Asian Supplies of USLNG, Pipeline Gas, and Coal, provides an integrated analysis of methane (CH4) and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions across leading fuel supply chains for power generation in 13 European and Asian end markets. Under development since 2021, the study employs bottom-up methodology to arrive at a comprehensive comparison of the emissions intensity of the primary fuel sources, as well as continuously updated data from numerous sources.

This contrasts with other recent studies, which rely on aggregated emissions information to develop general theoretical conclusions—and purport to show that the GHG emissions intensity of USLNG is greater than that of coal when used to produce electricity. In fact, BRG’s report demonstrates that the GHG emissions intensity of coal supply chains was over twice as high as USLNG for power generation in both Europe and Asia. GHG emissions from imported pipeline gas in Europe and Asia were also higher in most cases, with only a few exceptions. 

“Evaluating energy supply through the lens of GHG emissions intensity is a crucial first step toward the decarbonization of energy systems,” said Christopher Goncalves, a BRG managing director and chair of the Energy & Climate practice. “Doing so, however, requires accurate, updated measurements of emissions across fuel supply chains for both CO2 and CH4, with CH4 increasingly important to track given its outsized climate impact. This report leverages detailed methodologies and the best available public data to deliver insights vital to the ongoing energy transition.” 

Whereas governments and energy and industrial firms have been measuring and tracking CO2 emissions for more than two decades, there has been increasing focus on the material impact of CH4 emissions on the climate in recent years. When measured by the 20-year global warming potential (GWP20), the per-ton impact of CH4 emissions is 82.5 times greater than the per-ton impact of CO2. 

Consequently, national, regional and international efforts are targeting CH4 emissions—as are natural gas producers and consumers. New technologies are enabling emissions measurement at a systemic level, comparable to the scope of BRG’s new report. 

“Chris and his team at BRG have been building a long-term framework that will allow LNG Allies and others to benchmark USLNG against pipeline gas and coal in the world’s top markets. When considered on a full, global life-cycle basis, are the greenhouse gas emissions from USLNG better or worse than coal or pipeline gas from other suppliers?” said Fred Hutchison, president and CEO of LNG Allies (The USLNG Association), which commissioned and released the report with AXPC and BRG on Tuesday, April 16, at The National Press Club in Washington. 

The report was released concurrently at a gas conference in Belgium with BRG Associate Director Athanasia Arapogianni Konisti. 

View and download the full report.

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Christopher Goncalves

Managing Director

Washington, DC

Athanasia Arapogianni Konisti

Associate Director