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Switching to the “Golden Age of Natural Gas” with a focus on shale gas exploitation : a possible bridge to mitigate climate change?

Maazallahi, Hossein LU (2015) In Lund University GEM thesis series NGEM01 20151
Dept of Physical Geography and Ecosystem Science
Abstract
Currently, policy makers put high attention in supplying global energy demand by focusing on 2°C policy; global temperature anomaly based on the global mean temperature of pre-industrial era (13.7°C). How to keep the 2°C policy at global scope is the main question in climate framework. It is widely believed that primary energy resources (mainly coal, oil and natural gas) with focus on shale gas resources (one of natural gas resources) will be the main resources to global energy demand. Based on the shale gas boom in USA, there is an open question related to amount of fugitive methane emission from shale gas exploitation at local scale. In this study, which is separated into two parts, it was intended to narrow down current questions on... (More)
Currently, policy makers put high attention in supplying global energy demand by focusing on 2°C policy; global temperature anomaly based on the global mean temperature of pre-industrial era (13.7°C). How to keep the 2°C policy at global scope is the main question in climate framework. It is widely believed that primary energy resources (mainly coal, oil and natural gas) with focus on shale gas resources (one of natural gas resources) will be the main resources to global energy demand. Based on the shale gas boom in USA, there is an open question related to amount of fugitive methane emission from shale gas exploitation at local scale. In this study, which is separated into two parts, it was intended to narrow down current questions on climate change at global scope, and shale gas exploitation at local scale. The first part of the study is about climate simulations based on different natural gas scenarios using Educational Global Climate Model (EdGCM) software. In the second part, Airborne Visible/Infrared Imaging Spectrum (AVIRIS) imagery over Marcellus shale basin in Pennsylvania, USA, was retrieved from Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) of National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). By using high-resolution transmission (HITRAN) molecular absorption compilation and database the atmospheric transmittance spectrum was modelled. In order to map and evaluate fugitive methane emissions from shale gas well-heads, MatrixLaboratory (MATLAB) and Environment for Visualizing Images (ENVI) software were used. The results of the climate simulations show that if human activities switch from the current style of primary resources combustion (25.62% coal, 39.05% oil and 21.85% natural gas) to 8.5% coal, 19.24% oil, and 58.8% natural gas in average until 2100, there would be USD 19.82 billion (2005 USD) saved annually until 2078, for the countries who are paying for adaptation to climate change; meanwhile we can keep the 2°C policy until the end of 21st century. In the second part, in addition to inducing a new mapping technique of methane emission plumes, the results show that shale gas production has almost the same fugitive gas emissions as conventional gas wells, but some areas were detected where possible methane emissions were not direct fugitive emissions from the shale gas well-head but from surrounding areas of the well-pads. For these areas, site sampling and isotope analysis should be done to determine whether the probable methane emissions are results of shale gas activities. All in all, switching to supply global energy demand mostly from natural gas resources can play as a possible golden transition bridge to slow down global warming with consideration of local environmental impacts of shale gas exploitation. (Less)
Popular Abstract
We have the planet Earth where we and so many species are living. But so many alarms from Arctic all the way down to Antarctic are alerting us to very terrifying happenings at global scale which are known under climate change framework. The global warming is happening, which put living conditions on the blue planet Earth in dangerous red zones. According to a report from World Bank in 2010, annual adaptation costs to climate change at global scale is about USD 81.1 billion (2005 USD).

In the framework of climate change, it is extremely likely that burning fossil fuel resources are the main driving forces of global warming, so if we want to slow down the global mean temperature rise, we have to think about switching from the current... (More)
We have the planet Earth where we and so many species are living. But so many alarms from Arctic all the way down to Antarctic are alerting us to very terrifying happenings at global scale which are known under climate change framework. The global warming is happening, which put living conditions on the blue planet Earth in dangerous red zones. According to a report from World Bank in 2010, annual adaptation costs to climate change at global scale is about USD 81.1 billion (2005 USD).

In the framework of climate change, it is extremely likely that burning fossil fuel resources are the main driving forces of global warming, so if we want to slow down the global mean temperature rise, we have to think about switching from the current style of fossil fuel combustion to a style which slow down the temperature rise, but how?

Our life styles have been dependent on fossil fuel combustion for a very long time, and it is impossible to change the style in the blink of an eye, so we need long term plans with support of short term plans. It is extremely likely that: I) our planet Earth is very vulnerable to temperature rise of more than 2°C, II) fossil fuel combustion is the main driving force of climate change, along with the facts that: I) we need resources to supply our energy demand, and II) natural gas combustion increase global mean temperature less than oil and coal combustion to produce the unit of energy. So, should we increase natural gas combustion share and decrease coal and oil shares to keep the 2°C policy?

There are different resources from which we can extract natural gas. One of the natural gas resources is called shale gas formations. Fracking is a practice to extract natural gas from shale gas formations. Currently, we have heard about environmental impacts of fracking at local scale, mainly fugitive methane emissions, so here is the question: is it environmental friendly to increase the natural gas combustion from shale gas resources?

In this study, it was assumed that we are going to switch from current style of fossil fuel combustion to an age when we replace coal and oil with natural gas to slow down global warming, so let’s call this age “Golden Age of Natural Gas”. It was also assumed that the natural gas is extracted from shale gas resources. The results of this study show that if we switch from current style of fossil fuel combustion (25.62% coal, 39.05% oil and 21.85% natural gas) to 8.5% coal, 19.24% oil, and 58.8% natural gas in average until 2100, there would be USD 19.82 billion (2005 USD) saved annually. This switching should be implemented step by step in coherent plans at global scale as sudden change is far from reality.
Fracking can be environmental friendly if companies from oil/gas sector follow standards. The “Golden Age of Natural Gas” may be considered as a bridge to mitigate climate change. This age will give us time to develop promising clean technologies to supply global energy demands. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Maazallahi, Hossein LU
supervisor
organization
course
NGEM01 20151
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
Physical Geography and Ecosystem Science, GEM, shale gas exploitation, fugitive methane, climate change, carbon dioxide, age of natural gas, fossil fuel combustion
publication/series
Lund University GEM thesis series
report number
07
language
English
additional info
External supervisor: Dr. Robert Hack, ITC/University of Twente
id
7989502
date added to LUP
2015-09-23 16:06:28
date last changed
2015-10-23 17:44:07
@misc{7989502,
  abstract     = {Currently, policy makers put high attention in supplying global energy demand by focusing on 2°C policy; global temperature anomaly based on the global mean temperature of pre-industrial era (13.7°C). How to keep the 2°C policy at global scope is the main question in climate framework. It is widely believed that primary energy resources (mainly coal, oil and natural gas) with focus on shale gas resources (one of natural gas resources) will be the main resources to global energy demand. Based on the shale gas boom in USA, there is an open question related to amount of fugitive methane emission from shale gas exploitation at local scale. In this study, which is separated into two parts, it was intended to narrow down current questions on climate change at global scope, and shale gas exploitation at local scale. The first part of the study is about climate simulations based on different natural gas scenarios using Educational Global Climate Model (EdGCM) software. In the second part, Airborne Visible/Infrared Imaging Spectrum (AVIRIS) imagery over Marcellus shale basin in Pennsylvania, USA, was retrieved from Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) of National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). By using high-resolution transmission (HITRAN) molecular absorption compilation and database the atmospheric transmittance spectrum was modelled. In order to map and evaluate fugitive methane emissions from shale gas well-heads, MatrixLaboratory (MATLAB) and Environment for Visualizing Images (ENVI) software were used. The results of the climate simulations show that if human activities switch from the current style of primary resources combustion (25.62% coal, 39.05% oil and 21.85% natural gas) to 8.5% coal, 19.24% oil, and 58.8% natural gas in average until 2100, there would be USD 19.82 billion (2005 USD) saved annually until 2078, for the countries who are paying for adaptation to climate change; meanwhile we can keep the 2°C policy until the end of 21st century. In the second part, in addition to inducing a new mapping technique of methane emission plumes, the results show that shale gas production has almost the same fugitive gas emissions as conventional gas wells, but some areas were detected where possible methane emissions were not direct fugitive emissions from the shale gas well-head but from surrounding areas of the well-pads. For these areas, site sampling and isotope analysis should be done to determine whether the probable methane emissions are results of shale gas activities. All in all, switching to supply global energy demand mostly from natural gas resources can play as a possible golden transition bridge to slow down global warming with consideration of local environmental impacts of shale gas exploitation.},
  author       = {Maazallahi, Hossein},
  keyword      = {Physical Geography and Ecosystem Science,GEM,shale gas exploitation,fugitive methane,climate change,carbon dioxide,age of natural gas,fossil fuel combustion},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  series       = {Lund University GEM thesis series},
  title        = {Switching to the “Golden Age of Natural Gas” with a focus on shale gas exploitation : a possible bridge to mitigate climate change?},
  year         = {2015},
}