Liquified Petroleum Gas plays a small but essential role in answering to the global needs. LPG is produced by a mix of light hydrocarbons, predominantly propane and butane, changing to a liquid state when compressed at moderate pressure or chilled. It is considered to be the cleanest fuel, due to its low NO2 emissions (roughly 80% less than solid fuels), respecting the environment and contributing to save millions of lives worldwide, especially in underdeveloped countries where the population is still using kerosene and wood fire for cooking, causing premature deaths due to air pollution exposure.
How LPG can contribute to meeting global needs
LPG has a wide range of applications, both indoor and outdoor. As the report by the WLPGA on Global Energy Transition has indicated in a graph on the world final energy consumption of LPG by sector, in 2013 46% was destined for the residential sector. It means almost half of the world population use LPG for domestic use, such as cooking and heating, and within developed countries may also be used for outdoor activities such as BBQs and camping. Thanks to its features, LPG may be a key resource also for the hospitality and catering sectors, including the street food and beverage producers who are becoming more popular worldwide.
However, if we browse undeveloped countries, the amount of people who are still using solid fuels represent a huge portion of the population. Providing modern energy to the billions of people in poor countries who are still forced to rely on dirty and inefficient traditional fuels and kerosene remains a major challenge. Expanding household use of LPG in these countries could make a major contribution to eradicating energy poverty, bringing considerable health, developmental and environmental benefits. In addition to that, as previously reported in our blog post, LPG may contribute to guaranteeing empowerment and education for children and women.
Indeed, particularly for the women who live in areas where there is no access to clean cooking stoves and fuels, their lives are characterised by searching for fuel, spending hours cooking food for the family over an open fire with burning eyes and struggling to breathe from the constant smoke. For this reason, the use of LPG can help mitigate deforestation – a major cause of global warming – as well as reduce indoor and outdoor air pollution.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), around three billion people cook and heat their homes using open fires and mud stoves burning biomass (wood, animal dung and crop waste), as well as coal. Furthermore, the WHO estimates that around 4.3 million people die each year from diseases attributed to indoor air pollution, including chronic respiratory conditions such as pneumonia, lung cancer and even strokes.
In addition to that, LPG is commonly used also for transport, as its low emissions contribute to reducing air pollution. Indeed, in the UK recently Autogas has claimed LPG should be re-listed as exempt from congestion zone charging and will save millions of lives, in response to a new research conducted by King’s College that revealed 9,400 people die each year in the capital as a result of long-term exposure to air pollution – more than twice as many as previously thought. Indeed, NO2 emissions from LPG vehicles are up to 80% lower than diesel and particulates are up to 98% lower than diesel.
In order to ensure a massive energy transition from solid fuels to the cleanest ones such LPG, government policies need to play a crucial role.
As a matter of fact, so far it is not possible to state LPG meets the global needs, as LPG access is still not available worldwide. For this reason, in the light of the benefits of this clean and cheap fuel, it is essential governments cooperate with the main associations in the LPG industry, which are leading campaigns aimed to making governments more aware in order to fill the gap within this market.