In this paper, we used the life-cycle analysis (LCA) method to evaluate the energy consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of natural gas (NG) distributed generation (DG) projects in China. We took the China Resources Snow Breweries (CRSB) NG DG project in Sichuan province of China as a base scenario and compared its life cycle energy consumption and GHG emissions performance against five further scenarios. We found the CRSB DG project (all energy input is NG) can reduce GHG emissions by 22%, but increase energy consumption by 12% relative to the scenario, using coal combined with grid electricity as an energy input. The LCA also indicated that the CRSB project can save 24% of energy and reduce GHG emissions by 48% relative to the all-coal scenario. The studied NG-based DG project presents major GHG emissions reduction advantages over the traditional centralized energy system. Moreover, this reduction of energy consumption and GHG emissions can be expanded if the extra electricity from the DG project can be supplied to the public grid. The action of combining renewable energy into the NG DG system can also strengthen the dual merit of energy conservation and GHG emissions reduction. The marginal CO2
abatement cost of the studied project is about 51 USD/ton CO2
equivalent, which is relatively low. Policymakers are recommended to support NG DG technology development and application in China and globally to boost NG utilization and control GHG emissions.
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