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Gas industry says it holds key to low emission future with pipe storage

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An article in The Courier Mail says that Australia’s vast network of gas pipelines could store up to six billion Tesla Powerwall batteries worth of energy for use when renewable sources are not generating electricity, the gas industry says.

A report from a broad collection of companies in the industry says the development of biogas, hydrogen and ­carbon capture and storage technologies, combined with renewable energy sources, could create a reliable, secure and near-zero carbon emission power system by 2050.

Biogas is gas generated from the breakdown of organic waste material while hydrogen, commonly produced from natural gas, produces only water vapour during combustion.

Australian Gas Networks chief Ben Wilson said biogas and hydrogen could help ­create a zero-emission electricity network.

Hydrogen could be produced from methane using carbon capture and storage technology or from electrolysis using off-peak renewable ­energy sources, he said.

Mr Wilson said the network of pipelines used to transport gas could be used as “a giant battery” to store fuel to provide baseload power when renewable sources were not generating.

“Three transformational technologies — biogas, hydrogen and carbon capture and storage — could provide new zero-emission and low-emission fuels that can deliver power to Australian homes, businesses and vehicles using the existing distribution network,” he said.

“Australia’s gas infrastructure can store the same amount of energy as six billion Powerwall batteries.

“We need a technology-neutral policy environment to allow industry to research, ­develop and demonstrate a ­diverse range of low-emission technologies.”

Mr Wilson said the nation’s gas distribution network reached 6.5 million homes and it made sense to make the best use of it. Australian Gas Networks is Australia’s biggest gas distribution company, overseeing a 23,500km network of pipelines.

The report, titled Gas ­Vision 2050, was drafted by a coalition of more than 500 companies covering gas producers, distributors, pipeline operators and manufacturers.

It said gas delivered 44 per cent of Australia’s household energy but only 13 per cent of household greenhouse gas emissions.