Cities see positive air quality impact of coal to gas switch

The increased use of natural gas in power generation, heating and transport can “significantly” reduce air pollution. That’s according to a study by the International Gas Union (IGU) which stated cities […]

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By Jacqueline Echevarria

The increased use of natural gas in power generation, heating and transport can “significantly” reduce air pollution.

That’s according to a study by the International Gas Union (IGU) which stated cities such as Berlin, Dublin, Krakow and Rotterdam have switched to gas to improve air quality.

It claims they have reduced their greenhouse gas emissions “significantly” by switching from coal to gas.

The move played a significant role in improving Berlin’s air quality in the decades after reunification, the report states.

It adds Dublin’s reduction in residential coal consumption has largely been backfilled with natural gas as 67% of households use it. The energy source also accounts for more than 75% of the nation’s demand in the city’s residential sector.

Krakow city council introduced a city-wide coal ban earlier this year to completely phase out coal stoves from home heating by 2019. The city’s air pollution reduction programme also offers a number of incentives to switch to cleaner fuels, particularly to natural gas, the IGU states.

Rotterdam started LNG bunkering operations in August and is planning to have three LNG fueling berths installed by the end of the year. It is expected to reduce NOx (Nitrogen Oxide) emissions by up to 90% and SOx (Sulphur Oxide) and PM (Particular Matter) emissions by up to 100%.

David Carroll, President of the IGU said: “Air pollution is a significant threat to the environment and human health. The action taken in Berlin, Dublin, Krakow and Rotterdam demonstrates the central role of gas in improving air quality in urban areas. As these case studies demonstrate, switching from coal to gas-fired power is often the fastest and most cost effective approach to improve air quality and reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.”

In the UK, the government plans to close all coal-fired plants by 2025 and it has launched a consultation to test its plans.