Rethink Methane Conference Explores Opportunities for Natural Gas
This past week, several hundred attendees participated in the inaugural Rethink Methane Conference held in Sacramento, California, and organized by Gladstein, Neandross & Associates. The conference highlighted the opportunities for changing the way the natural gas industry operates and ways that our industry can continue to improve on natural gas’ environmental friendly attributes. Speakers addressed topics that are of increasing importance to policies in California, such as climate change and reducing emissions of short-lived pollutants. These issues, however, are not limited to California, as many states are similarly focused on promoting policies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, advance the use of renewable fuels, reduce reliance on petroleum and encourage renewable natural gas (RNG).
A new concept that received a lot of attention at the meeting was “power to gas,” which essentially means using electric power to produce hydrogen or synthetic natural gas. Companies interested in power-to-gas projects highlighted the significant energy storage opportunity as renewable electricity and excess electricity can be used to produce natural gas or hydrogen with the products easily stored or distributed through-out the vast natural gas network, something that electricity producers generally can’t do unless they have existing demand or battery storage. Natural gas advocates pointed to the advantages for natural gas in this application, which is lower cost than battery storage and which also greens the natural gas system with extremely low carbon hydrogen or synthetic natural gas made from renewable fuel. Several speakers used Europe as an example, where limited amounts of hydrogen already are being injected into natural gas systems.
A number of other speakers addressed the growing importance of traditional RNG markets and how this fuel is increasingly being used as a transportation fuel. In his opening remarks, Cliff Gladstein highlighted the advantage of renewable natural gas as a fuel for heavy-duty trucks and emphasized that RNG is one of the only short-term as well as possibly longer-term options for substantially reducing greenhouse gas emission from heavy-duty trucks. RNG costs more to produce than conventional natural gas, but it currently is aided by policies such as California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard and the national Renewable Fuel Standard, both of which provide a way for renewable natural gas producers to earn and sell valuable credits as a way to offset production costs. Growing levels of renewable natural mean that California could replace 75 percent of the diesel fuel used in the state if it directed all RNG to transportation fuel use. Clean Energy’s Harrison Clay reported that the 20 million gallons of renewable fuel sold by the company in 2014 offset 201,045 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions. Renewable natural gas is increasingly seen by some in the natural gas industry as an important aspect of enhancing the environmental benefits of natural gas vehicles.
Information on the Rethink Methane Conference and speakers is available here.