The Project will make plans for different situations and levels of adoption of natural gas as fuel, establishing parameters that may help to gauge the targets for reduction of emissions in the country.

Establishment of intelligence for energy and climate modelling in São Paulo (particularly at the University of São Paulo) and simulation of scenarios for reduction of emissions related to the use of natural gas as a replacement for other sources of energy: these are the two main goals of the project by the name of the Brazilian Greenhouse Gas Inventory and Scenarios for Emissions Reductions Related to Natural Gas, which is one of the 28 projects which have already been started by the Research Center for Gas Innovation (RCGI), which can be accessed through the website www.usp.br/rcgi.

Recently established as the result of a call-up launched by FAPESP and BG Brazil, this Center is guided by three complementary lines of research: Engineering, Physical Chemistry, and Energy Policies and the Economy. “The idea of this project is that of studying possible scenarios for the national energy matrix, especially with regard to fossil fuels and particularly an emphasis on natural gas”, explains Oswaldo Lucon, an engineer, lawyer and collaborating professor at the Institute for Energy and the Environment (IEE) of the University of São Paulo (USP).

According to Mr. Lucon, this initiative is based on the context of discussions about the reduction of emissions and promotion of a cleaner energy matrix. “Brazil has taken on commitments for the reduction of emissions at the last Climate Conference held in Paris, France, last year. We have agreed to reduce the emission of greenhouses gases by 37% until 2025, and by 43% until 2030, with the base year for such comparisons being 2005. If natural gas replaces other more carbon-intensive sources of energy, such as diesel, for example, then we can in fact reduce emissions.”

One of the academic coordinators of the project, Ricardo Esparta, explains that the solid and liquid fossil fuels emit more because their carbon chains are longer. “The emissions of CO2 per unit of generated energy in a gaseous fuel are less than in a liquid or solid type of fuel.”

In Brazil, the forecasts for the expansion of supply and demand of different sources of energy are presented in the Ten-Year Plan for Energy Expansion (PDE), produced by the Energy Research Company (EPE) which is attached to the Brazilian Ministry for Mines and Energy. According to the most recent plan, the production of natural gas should exceed 87.4 million cubic meters per day (m³/day) in 2014, reaching 171.7 million m³/day in 2024.

“We wish to define some algorithms to emulate and help to validate what is on paper. The PDE is very important because, by force of decree, it officially represents the sectorial energy plan for mitigation of emission of greenhouse gases in the country. As the PDE is based on assumptions, there is a risk that assumptions that have hardly been tested could lead to distorted conclusions”, Mr. Lucon sums up.

“We plan to use the EPE reports as a base and simulate scenarios with other assumptions and narratives. Imagine one example: what would happen if all buses running on diesel were replaced by buses running on natural gas? Well, our idea is that of constructing many of these scenarios”, Mr. Esparta adds.

“We need to predict different situations if we are proposing targets and climate commitments for 2025 and 2030. For example: with the increase in the population, how much gas does this require to generate electricity, for industrial use, to make vehicles run, and for the buildings? If there is any technological change, what would happen then?”, says Mr. Lucon.

The initial schedule of the project is established as being over two years, with an initial team with four researchers and two collaborators being involved.

About RCGI

The RCGI (www.usp.br/rcgi) was set up at the end of last year, to investigate the current and future use of natural gas, with the ultimate aim of increasing its participation in the energy matrix of the Country and reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases. Natural gas has a strategic role in the transition from an energy matrix based on fossils to a cleaner matrix.

With a forecast volume of BRL 100 million in investments made by the Foundation for Research Support of the State of São Paulo (Fapesp) and BG Brazil (a company of the BG Group which has recently been acquired by Shell), RCGI is investigating, apart from the use of solar energy for the production of syngas, the use of natural gas as a fuel for ships, advanced combustion, fuel cells for hydrogen, and other issues.