News Article

Key Takeaways from CERAWeek 2024

April 2, 2024

CERAWeek 2024, one of the energy industry’s top conferences, brought together policymakers, traditional and renewable energy executives, and industry analysts to discuss the energy transition in Houston, TX last month.

Here is a recap of the top takeaways we had from the 5-day event:

Natural gas will continue to play a significant role in decarbonization.

  • The perhaps most-quoted statement to come out of CERAWeek was a strong defense of the oil and gas industry from Saudi Aramco CEO Amin Hassan Nasser. Nasser told CERAWeek attendees that phasing out oil and natural gas is a “fantasy.”  
  • EQT CEO, Toby Rice, said that the rising electric power demands of AI will be a driving force in keeping demand for natural gas high, perhaps even beyond the impact of demand for LNG exports. In fact, participants during CERAWeek discussed how the rising demand from data centers is creating lines of communication directly between pipeline operators and technology firms.
  • Recent global learnings cement the importance of natural gas for energy reliability and to transition developing countries away from coal.
  • Sec. Granholm suggested that the LNG export freeze would be short lived, indicating the administration believes in the global importance of LNG and importance of maintaining the US’s market share of LNG exports.
  • The industry showed considerable interest in e-NG during CERAWeek, especially pertaining to end users in Japan and the European Union without having to rebuild the entire pipeline system.

CERAWeek participants were divided on hydrogen and CCUS as decarbonization strategies.

  • It is too soon to say whether the IRA’s subsidies for carbon capture will be enough to kickstart robust investment in the CCUS market, according to Tak Ishikawa, CEO of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries America.
  • CERAWeek panelists like Steve Smith, director of strategy and innovation at National Grid, expressed concerns with the reliability of hydrogen to provide backup energy on days when renewable sources like solar and wind cannot meet demand. Other concerns expressed about hydrogen included its propensity to leak, and the relatively high cost of production currently.
  • Solutions proposed to the hydrogen reliability problem include ramping up/down electrolyzers to meet demand, using hydrogen fuel cells to store energy, and blending hydrogen with natural gas in regions with high natural gas concentration to reduce overall carbon intensity of natural gas.
  • While hydrogen will play an important role in decarbonizing the US power sector by 2035, CERAWeek participants agreed that the industry must be selective around the right use cases for hydrogen.

Repurposing assets will be key to enabling the success of low-carbon energy projects.

  • Whether understanding how to use existing infrastructure for biofuels, e-fuels, SAF, or other future fuels, there was a pervasive focus on the importance of leveraging existing assets to expedite the production and distribution of greener energy.
  • Leveraging technologies already established in the fossil fuel industry for the production of renewable energy can also help expedite the maturation of these markets, according to CERAWeek participants.
  • For example, Enbridge president of gas transmission and midstream, Cynthia Hansen, discussed how integrating storage into existing pipeline assets improves the economic viability of storage projects.

Overall, the centrality of natural gas both as a transition fuel, future green fuel, and a driving force for innovation in decarbonization was highly notable at CERAWeek 2024. It is now widely acknowledged, even by steadfast policymakers, that investment and innovation from traditional energy operators are essential for achieving a clean energy future.