Natural gas supporting the development of renewables

Natural gas is an important part of the global effort to reduce emissions, particularly as a partner to variable renewable energy – the fastest growing sources of power in power grids across the world. Natural gas generated power is important as it can respond quickly to changes in solar and wind supply, such as on cloudy or still days, therefore helping to maintain reliable electricity supply to customers. This certainty of supply is particularly important to manufacturers and other energy intensive industries. Other technologies that can play a role in firming variable renewables are pumped hydro and batteries.

Origin Energy is one of Australia’s biggest investors in renewables and storage. Renewables are the fastest growing parts of our power generation portfolio – from under 5% in 2015 to almost 20% of our owned and contracted generation capacity today. This percentage is expected to continue to rise as new projects come online.

We will continue to support further growth in renewables and give our customers options to install cleaner and smarter energy solutions like rooftop solar and batteries. We have installed more than 1 million solar panels on Australian homes and businesses. We believe in balancing the energy mix so that customers have reliable, affordable and cleaner energy supply, and gas remains an important factor in that equation. 

Natural gas cutting CO2 emissions in Australia and across the world

Natural gas has half the emissions of coal and is more flexible and able to support sudden changes in wind and solar power. Coal-to-gas switching internationally saved about 500 million tonnes of CO2 between 2010 and 2018. This is the equivalent of putting more than 200 million electric vehicles running on zero-carbon electricity on the road over the same period [IEA].

Given our access to energy resources, Australia has traditionally benefited from relatively low cost and abundant coal-fired power. As we seek to reduce our nation’s carbon emissions and with many of Australia’s coal fired plants getting old and less reliable, they will progressively be closed, and our grid will transition to predominantly renewable power supply. Natural gas peaking power stations, batteries and pumped hydro will play the role of ‘firming’ variable renewables to maintain reliable supply. By shifting to this cleaner energy supply firmed by gas and other technologies, we have the potential to save tens of millions of tonnes of CO2 emissions in Australia alone in the short to medium term.

When converted to liquefied natural gas (LNG) for export, natural gas can also help reduce greenhouse gas emissions elsewhere in the Asia–Pacific region. For every tonne of greenhouse gas emissions generated by LNG production in Australia, up to 9 tonnes of emissions are avoided in the Asia–Pacific region when this gas is substituted for coal in electricity generation. Natural gas produced in Australia has global climate benefits. [Worley Parsons]

Origin and Climate Change

Origin acknowledges climate change and is a leading advocate for action to reduce emissions in Australia and globally. For many years, we have had a strategy in place to drive the progressive decarbonisation of our business. Origin was the first Australian company to sign up to a science-based emissions reduction target to halve our direct emissions by 2032.

Origin is committed to getting energy right for our customers, communities and planet. Providing sustainable, reliable and affordable energy and playing our part in the drive to reduce global emissions is at the very heart of our purpose as an organisation.

We believe a goal of net zero emissions in the electricity sector by 2050 or earlier is achievable and our strategy includes a commitment to exit coal-fired generation by 2032 – Origin only owns one coal fired power station, Eraring in NSW. We’re also a big supporter of renewables and storage and they’re fast growing in our portfolio, from under 5% in 2015 to almost 20% of our owned and contracted generation capacity today. We are also Australia’s leading retailer of rooftop solar, having installed millions of panels on the roofs of Australian homes.

Emissions from the Beetaloo Basin

We’re exploring for natural gas in the Beetaloo Basin at the moment – not producing gas – which means we are still at the stage of assessing whether there is a commercially recoverable resource present. Any discussion about future emissions from the Beetaloo is purely hypothetical and therefore probably not accurate.

If we decide in years to come that the gas at Beetaloo is viable and can be extracted safely, we’d need to do a detailed environmental assessment, including a future emissions profile, and describe how we’ll mitigate or offset those emissions. The first meaningful estimation can only be made when we have a greater understanding of the resource, and if and how it’s likely to be produced.

As an operator we have an extremely robust history of responsible development and minimising these emissions.

As reported in our Sustainability Report, in Queensland, venting and leaks of methane amounts to about to just 0.1% of metered gas sales, demonstrating our commitment to safety and responsible production. While we’re happy with this result we’re always looking at ways to reduce our emissions further. You can read more in our Sustainability Report here: https://www.originenergy.com.au/about/sustainability/sustainability-reports.htm