A study evaluates the climate costs and health benefits of increasing synthetic natural gas (SNG) production in China. Plans to increase the production of coal-based synthetic natural gas (SNG), an energy source that creates less air pollution but more CO2 emissions than coal, in China are estimated to produce up to approximately 57 billion cubic meters of SNG by 2020. Denise L. Mauzerall and colleagues modeled the influence of substituting that quantity of SNG for coal in a variety of end uses—residential, industrial, and power sectors—on air quality, health, and CO2 emissions. The model suggests that if China deploys SNG in the residential sector, outdoor air pollution and premature deaths may decrease 10 and 60 times more than if SNG is deployed in the industrial or power sectors, respectively. Specifically, using SNG in the residential sector was found to be tied to a reduction in premature deaths by approximately 32,000 annually. Across all three sectors, the use of SNG was tied to increased CO2 emissions, compared with coal or conventional natural gas. However, a comparatively smaller increase in CO2 emissions was found to be associated with the deployment of SNG in the residential sector rather than in the industrial or power sectors. According to the authors, using available SNG in the residential sector might provide the largest air quality and health benefits and smallest climate penalties, compared with allocation to the power or industrial sectors. - Read at PNAS
Article #17-03167: “Air quality, health, and climate implications of China’s synthetic natural gas development,” by Yue Qin et al.