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Gas Energy CEO Optimistic About LPG’s Future Amid Victoria’s Gas Phaseout

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It is a little-known fact that liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) is not included in Victoria’s natural gas (LNG) phaseouts, which means the clean, green gas will play a major role in Australia’s pathway towards net zero carbon emissions. 

This is why Brett Heffernan, CEO of Gas Energy Australia, was optimistic about the potential of LPG in powering homes across the country. 

“From our perspective, there’s nothing but upside,” he told The Epoch Times. “Not a lot of people know what’s happening in Victoria, and it’s fair to say the Victorian government isn’t singing it from the rooftops. 

“But in terms of the ban on new gas connections that came into effect from Jan. 1, LPG is exempt.” 

According to Gas Energy Australia’s website, “green gases will transform how we work, relax and play, ensuring families and businesses can continue to reliably and affordably use gas—renewable, zero-emitting gases—to 2050 and beyond.” 

The industry already generates over $121 billion (US$81 billion) in economic activity, while fuelling 7 million homes. 

LPG differs from liquefied natural gas (LNG) in its composition and contains double the energy content of natural gas, making it cheaper in many cases.

Government’s Bid To Phase Out Natural Gas 

The CEO added that state governments—particularly the Victorian government—have “made it pretty clear that they see no future for natural gas in residential and commercial settings.” 

“They see natural gas being used purely and simply for industrial uses, and as backup for electricity generation.” 

Under the Victorian government’s Gas Substitution Plan, natural gas connections are banned in all new estates from Jan. 1 of this year. 

A kitchen gas stove burner at a residential property in Melbourne, Australia, on June 16, 2022. (Joel Carrett/AAP Image)
A kitchen gas stove burner at a residential property in Melbourne, Australia, on June 16, 2022. (Joel Carrett/AAP Image)

However, the state Liberal opposition criticised this restriction as one that would only add to the national cost-of-living crisis. 

“Premier Jacinta Allan and Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio are oblivious to the pain of Victorians during the cost-of-living crisis that Labor has made worse,” Shadow Minister for Energy David Davis, said as the new law came in. 

“Their new gas plan will hit families and small businesses even harder, forcing up energy costs further, as Victorians pay the price for Labor’s mismanagement.” 

What Does LPG Do? 

LPG is a fuel gas that contains a flammable mixture of hydrocarbon gases, specifically propane, n-butane and isobutane. It is used in heating appliances, cooking equipment, and vehicles. 

Clean, odourless, and colourless, LPG is typically 85-90 per cent methane, which contains less carbon than other forms of fossil fuels. 

“And what that means is when you burn it, the only C02 that gets emitted is the C02 that you took out of the atmosphere to make it in the first place,” Mr. Heffernan said. 

It Does Have Its Critics 

Despite being a source of clean energy, not everyone is convinced that LPG is the way forward to power homes or cars. 

Environment Victoria CEO Jono La Nauze stands against all forms of gas usage on Australia’s net-zero journey. 

“Pretending gas is a climate solution is a throwback to the Scott Morrison era and is straight out of the gas lobby playbook,” he said in a statement. 

“Gas is an expensive disaster for our climate and our health. We already know that burning gas at home has health impacts on the level of second-hand smoke and is responsible for 12 percent of all childhood asthma in Australia.” 

While the Climate Council has echoed similar figures and has consistently opposed any future gas development in the country.

“Methane is up to 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide for its global warming potential in the short term. This means that over 20 years, one tonne of methane warms the atmosphere 84 times as much as one tonne of carbon dioxide,” the group said in June last year.

Demand for Gas Will Not Subside: CEO

Despite this criticism, Mr. Heffernan argued demand for LPG was only going to increase in coming years.

The CEO noted that there were 2,026,450 homes in Australia relying on LPG everyday for household activities such as cooking, hot water, and heating, while there were about 130,000 businesses using LPG everyday. That includes hospitals and schools who use it for heating. 

“You have farmers who absolutely depend on it, in terms of animal rearing, greenhouse use, drying crops and a whole range of things,” he added. 

“And particularly in regional areas, you’ve got all those commercial kitchens such as cafes, restaurants, clubs, fish-and-chip shops, you name it. 

“They’re pretty much running on LPG.” 

Meanwhile, the CEO also said the cost of electrification could be prohibitive for some.

“In many instances if you’re running all gas appliances in your home, then in many cases your home is running on Phase 1 wiring,” Mr. Heffernan said.

“Which means, to make that transition to all those appliances, you have to upgrade your entire home to Phase 3 wiring.

“That, depending on the size of your home, will cost you between $20,000 to $30,000.”

Concerns Australia Will Not Reach Net Zero Target

With the very real threat of mass blackouts due to the ongoing mass energy transition this winter, Mr. Heffernan saidLPG could also play a role firming up Australia’s energy grid. 

“They (renewable energy sites) are not going to reach their 2030 targets. They’re not even close and they’ve already blown out,” he said.  

“You’re even seeing things like coal-fired power stations, which are supposed to be coming to an end, governments are now begging them to stay open for a bit longer. ”

Coalition Senator for Queensland, Matt Canavan, said the federal Labor government was irresponsible in its push for Australia to have an energy grid made up of 50 percent renewables by 2030, and has been vocal in keeping natural gas as part of the mix. 

“Both federal Labor and the [state] Labor government want to impose 50 percent renewables on the electricity market by 2030 purely for ideological reasons,” he said. 

“This would force up electricity prices and risk the reliability of power supplies, and Labor should abandon the plan immediately.” 

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