The Australian Outback, known abroad for its population of kangaroos, dingoes and other wildlife, is also home to an abundant supply of natural gas. Or rather, it was. Lately, it seems that supply is no longer at home in Australia. Instead, it’s gone abroad. According to the Wall Street Journal, Australia has “Exported Its Way Into an Energy Crisis.”
The Journal reports: “On a sweltering night this February, the world’s no. 2 exporter of liquefied natural gas didn’t have enough energy left to keep its own citizens cool.
“A nationwide heat wave in Australia drove temperatures above 105 degrees Fahrenheit around the city of Adelaide on the southern coast. As air-conditioning demand soared, regulators called on Pelican Point, a local gas-fueled power station running at half capacity, to crank up.
“It couldn’t. The plant’s operator said it wasn’t able to get enough natural gas to run its turbines fully. At 6:03 p.m., regulators cut power to 90,000 Adelaide homes to prevent a wider blackout.”
As it stands, Australia is currently on pace to overtake Qatar as the world’s leading exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG) within the next few years. And guess who’s right behind them?
We are. The U.S. will become the world’s number-three LNG exporter by 2020, according to Energy Department estimates. If Australia is any indicator of what happens when exports increase, that means our country could be looking ahead to higher natural gas prices and tighter domestic supplies, putting the power grid, as well as the home and business owners who depend on it, in jeopardy.
America and Australia’s seasons are of course reversed. However, in both countries, natural gas is used not only industrially — by the power plants that provide electricity for air conditioning, lighting and other vital necessities — but also residentially, for home heating. Who can tell whether a -5º day without heat is as dangerous as a 105º day without air conditioning? At any rate, if that’s the kind of question natural gas has us asking, it can’t be the best bridge to a better future … for either side of the planet.
Click here to read the full WSJ article.