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Nat Grid Says Bio Gas Can Meet 25% of Demand

National Grid published a recent report stating that the natural gas company could meet 25 percent of its customers’ needs with renewable gas generated from biomass sources.

According to the study commissioned by National Grid, the company can meet a quarter of its demand in Connecticut, New York, New Hampshire and Massachusetts, excluding natural gas used to generate electricity, equivalent to the cooking and heating demands for 2.2 million homes. That represents 16 percent of total demand, according to the company.

Renewable gas, also known as bio-methane, is pipeline quality gas derived from biomass that is fully interchangeable with natural gas.

Produced mainly via anaerobic digestion (AD) or thermal gasification (TG), renewable gas, can be implemented easily and is a cost-effective solution to reduce GHG emissions, according to National Grid.

Currently, most producers, such as the landfill-to-energy project in which Google recently invested, either flare the raw gas or utilize it in a generator to produce

electricity. This raw gas, commonly referred to as “biogas,” is composed of roughly 50 to 60 percent methane and 40 to 50 percent carbon dioxide (CO2). Flaring the gas converts methane to CO2 thereby reducing the GHG effect by a factor of 20.

By collecting, conditioning and injecting a high percentage of the available methane into the natural gas network, customers can directly use the gas in their existing natural gas appliances and other end-use applications.

National Grid said renewable gas reduces GHG emissions by fuel substitution, essentially switching from a fossil fuel to a renewable fuel. Using renewable fuel represents the recycling of carbon already circulating in the environment, and using fossil fuel represents new emissions of carbon that was previously trapped geologically under the surface of the earth.

The capital investment required to deliver renewable gas across the four states is estimated to be approximately $7 billion, which compares well with the cost of delivering other large-scale renewable projects such as solar or wind, according to the company.

Renewable gas production plants are estimated to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by approximately 16 million tons per year, as well as additional GHG benefits of avoided methane that is released into the atmosphere. National Grid said government support will be the most critical factor in delivering renewable gas.

The report urges public policymakers to offer incentives for renewable gas comparable to those currently available for renewable electricity. Renewable electricity incentives have led to a proliferation of power generation projects at landfills, waste water treatment plants and some farms, but using this gas to produce pipeline quality gas is a more efficient way to utilize the energy, according to National Grid.

Some individual companies have already begun implementing the technology at their facilities. Spoetzl Brewery, for example, said it plans to add a $3 million biogas generation and wastewater treatment facility at its historic facility in Shiner, Texas. The renewable energy plant is expected to reduce the facility’s carbon emissions by more than 500 metric tons annually and eliminate 85 percent of the treatable waste components in the brewery’s wastewater.

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4 thoughts on “Nat Grid Says Bio Gas Can Meet 25% of Demand

  1. This strikes me as a total win-win sort of thing, and I simply can’t understand the “drill-baby-drill crowd. Biogas appears widely available, but is often simply discarded. It reduces total GHG and leaves more natural gas in the ground for the future. Why isn’t Washington all over this?

  2. Drill baby drill puts gas in your car. Biomass will not run your car, at least not effectively. If we could reduce, the demand requirements to maintain our Playstations and Xboxes would disappear.

  3. Biogas can definitely fuel cars. It requires only a straightforward cleanup and compression and you have CNG, the cleanest vehicle fuel on the road, at less than the cost of gasoline.

  4. I agree with Norma biogas can definitely fuel cars via cleaning and compression to CNG however that is not what this article was trying to point out. On the other side crude oil is not the only thing being drilled for in this country. National Grid was simply trying to point out the potential for converting biomass to methane where the biomass exists and easily transporting it to where it is needed thus substantially reducing GHG emissions.

    It was recently pointed out in a report by MIT that natural gas is the bridge to a low carbon future. This report talks about the potential of natural gas as a vehicle fuel for the US for the next 40 years.

    Now for more on CNG and to ask why this country has not switched our automobile fleets. There is the obvious reason being that petroleum owns Detroit which has been proven countless times over the last 50 years with the purchase and destruction of patents that would have greatly improved fuel economy. Because of their past sins I feel that GM (Government Motors) should be forced to repay their loan immediately or that at least 50% of their 2012 vehicles need to be CNG powered. Here is some more information on the incredible price differential between CNG and gasoline. Biogas and Natural Gas are both priced on a per million BTU basis. For round math a gallon of gasoline contains roughly 125,000 BTU thus one MMBTU of biogas is equivalent to 8 gallons of gasoline. Biogas can not be directly used for compression as you need to remove the CO2 first. With the latest technology it costs $1.50 to convert that one MMBTU of biogas to one MMBTU of pipeline quality natural gas but this is a cost which would need to be born by the biogas plant in order to compete with fossil based natural gas. Natural gas is currently selling for $6 / MMBTU so this gives you a gasoline equivalent of $.75 per gallon compared to gasonline which is again moving towards the $3 mark in many parts of the country. You need to add the cost of compression and road taxes to this but still nowhere close to $3. This is also a straight up replacement for gasoline and diesel fuel not an inferior fuel such as ethanol. Yes, there is some cost to convert a vehicle to burn CNG but the IRS will give you back about 50% of that investment and rather than having to stop at the filling station you can refill your car at home at night in most parts of the country. I should also point out that there are several cars on the market that you can by as dual fuel (CNG and gasoline) so don’t worry you can still fill up away from home on long trips.

    I welcome any questions people might have on this.

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