On January 13th, I was sitting with my extended family watching the Hockey game. We celebrated every shot on goal for our team, and shrieked every time the other team almost scored. However, close to the end of the game the feed cut out and all of our phones in horrible harmony issued this obnoxious blaring noise: an Alberta Emergency Alert had been issued, because of a high risk of rotating blackouts.
Why did this alarm concern me?
This was deeply concerning! It was at least -30C and our house’s furnace was already struggling to keep up; we had an electric space heater in the living room helping keep that specific room warm for everyone.
Without power, we’d immediately lose our house lighting, the power to the space heater and potentially lose the power to our furnace ignition system. This would leave all 10 of us without any form of energy to stay warm.
What caused this grid alert?
Problem 1: High Grid Demand – As you can see in image 2, There was a significant increase in power consumption within the province: The Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) reported an Alberta Interconnected Load (AIL) of 11,802 MW, up from ∼10,500 MW earlier that day. The primary reason for the high load was the extremely low temperatures we were experiencing in the province.
Image 2: Weekly Energy Summary posted on January 15th. Source (Linkedin). Graph shows how on January 13th, there was a marked uptick in power consumption around 6pm. At this time, power prices in the province shot up to the AESO price limit of $999/MWh, 10 times the 30-day rolling average at the time of $100/MWh.
Problem 2: Loss of Generation in the Province – The larger issue that led to the emergency alert was the lack of available power generation in the province. As shown in Image 3, there was a significant lack of both wind and solar at the time of alert.
Image 3: Alberta electricity production by type (Source: Alberta Energy). Generation by natural gas made up 81.7% of power generation at the time of the emergency alert. At the time of the alert, Solar and wind provided 100MW of the 6,131MW of installed power generation as reported on AESO Supply page.
How Collicutt Energy Helped Support Grid Reliability
At Collicutt Energy Services, our primary business is ensuring reliable power to your facility; whether this is through onsite natural gas generation or backup standby diesel power.
During this grid emergency event, many of our clients responded to an AESO directive to reduce their consumption. This is referred to as ‘Demand Response’. Over the last year, we have been helping clients prepare for events like this by getting their facility set up with backup generation that could, at a moment’s notice, provide relief to the grid.
Over the weekend of January 12-14th, our customers helped provide seven hours of grid relief; two and a half of those hours occurring on January 13th.
Why did our clients participate in Demand Response?
A natural question many people would ask is “Why would a large industrial customer participate in Demand Response? especially if it could impact the production of that company?”
Great question – other than being a great corporate citizen, they were compensated for it.
In 2022, the average customer who participated in Demand Response (Also formally referred to as Operating Reserve: Supplemental Reserves) earned between $200-250,000 for every Megawatt they were able to curtail. So for a facility that consistently consumed 2MW and participated in Demand Response, they could earn as much as $500,000 for reducing load for approximately 20-30 hrs of the year.
Can your facility participate in Demand Response?
With further deployment of renewables in Alberta and greater demand for electricity in the province, we are expecting more events like the grid emergency event of January 13th to happen in the future.
Can I enroll my facility in Demand Response?
Here are the eligibility criteria:
Are you consistently consuming 400kW or greater between 7 am and 11 pm?
Can you reduce your power consumption within a 10 minute period?
If your answer to the above questions is yes, then your facility is eligible. Reach out to us.
About the Author
Matthew Swinamer is a mechanical engineer with APEGA. In Matthew’s role as Technical Sales Engineer, he works to help commercial and industrial clients understand the power of onsite generation to reduce utility costs and increase sustainability of their energy consumption.
Reliable electricity is the lifeblood of our entire society! Without electricity, we would not be able to grow, transport, or store food; heat or cool our homes; transact business; secure our country, and the list goes on! However, the stability of the US electrical grid has become a growing concern. This has been highlighted by an increasing frequency of power outages caused by weather events, accidents, and natural disasters. These events highlight the urgent need for businesses to consider backup power generation as a crucial investment.
Fragility of the Electrical Grid
According to a recent paper written by Robert Bryce1, the US electric grid has a generation capacity of 1.25TW and is interconnected across the continent by:
6.1 million miles of wire, poles and transformers
12,538 utility scale power plants
9 federal power agencies
2,003 public utilities
315 power marketers
178 investor owned utilities
This ad hoc compilation of disparate parts and systems results in an extremely complex and potentially unstable system! The vulnerability challenges that the grid is facing can be categorized into a few main areas:
Complex interconnections – All of the different organizations involved in the regulation, power generation, transmission, and distribution of electric power create a myriad of single points of failure. These single points of failure may be minor but could cause a cascade of additional failures impacting a large geographical area.
Aging infrastructure – Much of the US power grid is outdated and in need of modernization. These aging components add to the risk and complexity identified in point (1) above.
Extreme weather – Weather events can cause outages due to loss of sub stations or powerplants, downed powerlines, etc.. Add to this grids that don’t have enough gas, hydro, or nuclear power generation to cover their demand when that demand is high and wind turbines or solar are not producing.
Overload – The pace of urbanization has outstripped the pace of new power generation capacity. This results in increased grid overload and eventually brownouts or blackouts.
Cybersecurity – Technology has advanced over the years and the threat of cyber attacks on our power grids is significant2, 4, 5. Although, there are many efforts underway to address this (reference this paper published in September 2021 “Cybersecurity in Power Grids”3) we still have a lot of work to do in this area.
Options for Backup Power Solutions for Your Business
The fragility of the US electrical grid system that is outlined above requires businesses to invest in backup power solutions that will keep them operational while the grid power is unavailable.
Every business is unique and the backup power solution for each business needs to be designed accordingly. Fortunately, there are many options and combinations of products available, including:
Diesel – A standby power generator that is only stated and run during a power outage. When using HVO fuel, these sorts of systems have reduced emissions significantly. See What is HVO and Why Should You Care for more details.
Battery – As battery technology is advancing, using batteries as part of your backup power is something that should be considered. They are particularly effective when you have a microgrid system that may need a method of storing extra power that cannot be used at the time it is generated.
Natural Gas or Biogas – Natural gas power generation is much cleaner than diesel6 so this may be a great option for your business. If you have a source of biogas then you may be able to use this directly or blend7 it with natural gas to create low cost fuel source to generate electricity.
CHP, Combined Heat and Power8 – CHP systems are typically a natural gas or biogas fueled generator that also capture the heat produced by the generator and use this energy to improve the overall efficiency of the system to greater than 90%. Colleges, schools, commercial buildings, hospitals, and casinos are some examples of where CHPs can be used effectively.
Microgrid9 – This is a localized group of electricity sources and loads that can operate independently of the traditional centralized power grid. A typical system would include power generation from solar, wind, batteries, and a natural gas or diesel power generator.
EaaS, Energy as a Service – This is typically supplied as part of a CHP or microgrid power system and consists of a natural gas or biogas fueled generator that is operated and maintained by a third party rather than by the business. See A Sustainable Solution for Uninterrupted Power for more details and advantages of an EaaS solution.
Take Action Today
Businesses cannot afford to overlook the fragility of the U.S. electrical grid. Power outages can have severe consequences for revenue, reputation, and operations. Investing in backup power generation solutions is not just a smart move, it’s a necessity to ensure business continuity, reliability, and peace of mind in the face of an unpredictable electrical grid.
Don’t wait until the next power outage . . . contact Collicutt now tollfree at 1.888.682.6888 and let us guide you to a solution that safeguards your business’s future.
Why Every Microgrid Should Contain a Natural Gas Generator: A Sustainable Solution for Uninterrupted Power Supply
A microgrid is a localized group of electricity sources and loads that can operate independently of the traditional centralized power grid. Microgrids can include a variety of different power sources including renewable energy resources.
Typically, a microgrid consists of several essential components some of which are listed below:
Energy generation resources like; solar panels, wind turbines, fuel cells, D-UPS, diesel generator, or natural gas generators.
An battery energy storage system, BESS, to store excess energy and provide power when the solar and wind cannot.
A load (typically the group of electricity consumers on the microgrid).
A microgrid controller that controls and optimizes the generation, consumption, and storage of energy.
A controller and switching system that enables the microgrid to switch between operating in utility-connected or island mode.
An advanced communication system that enables the coordination and optimization of the microgrid’s elements.
Microgrids offer many benefits, particularly for businesses and institutions. We have listed five below but there are many more depending on the unique site situation:
Resilience and Reliability: Microgrids can operate in island mode during a grid outage, providing uninterrupted power supply which means uninterrupted business operation.
Energy Efficiency: By generating power close to the source of consumption, microgrids reduce transmission losses.
Cost Savings: Microgrids can provide 100% of the power required for your facilities or they can leverage peak shaving and load shifting strategies to lower energy costs (or a combination of these solutions). Some microgrids can also produce power to the utility grid and become revenue generators.
Environmental Sustainability: By incorporating renewable energy sources, microgrids reduce greenhouse gas emissions (especially if the utility power uses a combination of coal fired power generation). This plays in big role in a business as they drive towards their net-zero or carbon-neutral goals.
Energy Security: Microgrids reduce dependence on the national grid, enhancing energy security.
Despite the promise of renewable energy sources like solar and wind, their intermittency and low capacity factor (1) makes it difficult to rely on them exclusively for a consistent power supply. This is where natural gas generators become invaluable. A natural gas genset can be brought online by the microgrid controller to provide power when renewable resources are not available, such as when the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing. See MIT Energy Initiative’s study; “The Future of Natural Gas” (2) for more details.
Comparing natural gas generators to traditional diesel generators, natural gas has several advantages:
Lower Emissions: Although emissions vary greatly between manufacturer and generator size, natural gas generators produce fewer emissions than diesel, including lower CO2, NOx, VOC, and particulate matter emissions (3), which makes them a cleaner alternative (International Energy Agency, 2021 (4)).
Cost-Effectiveness: Natural gas is more cost effective than diesel, resulting in lower operating costs.
Reliability: Natural gas supply is usually more reliable than diesel especially in urban areas with established natural gas infrastructure. Diesel tanks need to be filled while methane is “unlimited” via a natural gas pipeline.
Regardless of the technology chosen for your microgrid, there is a capital cost required to get a system designed, installed, commissioned, and started up. Many companies simply don’t have the capital sitting around for this type of investment and continue to rely on unreliable and expensive grid power. However, this is where Energy as a Service can play a role in getting your microgrid system in place and removing your reliance on the traditional power grid.
EaaS – Energy as a Service
Energy as a Service is essentially the supply of key components of a microgrid system on a lease type arrangement or power purchase agreement. This allows customers to avoid the upfront capital cost of purchasing these key components.
The key components of EaaS that Collicutt Energy is able to provide include;
Gas blending systems
Diesel generators (for black start)
Summing Things Up
In conclusion, the integration of natural gas generators in a microgrid design is a practical, sustainable, and economical solution for ensuring uninterrupted power supply. As businesses and institutions continue to strive for resilience, efficiency, and sustainability, the microgrid—with natural gas as a key component—presents an effective pathway to achieve these objectives.
If you have any questions regarding this article or if you have a microgrid or power project of any kind give us a call at Collicutt Energy at 888.682.6888. We have a team of experts that would be happy to work with you to evaluate your project and determine the best fit solution for you.
Why Power Density Makes Natural Gas Essential for Every Microgrid
Defining Power Density
Power density, typically measured in Watts per kilogram (W/kg), refers to the power created per unit of material required to produce that power. It provides a metric for assessing the resource intensity of various power generation methods.
Essentially, a high W/kg rating means that the power generating device creates more power per kilogram. A low W/kg rating means that it takes more material (e.g., cost and complexity) to create a Watt of power.
Comparing Power Densities of Various Energy Sources
The following chart is a screen shot from the International Energy Agency (1) and it illustrates the vast difference between the mass of material required to produce a unit of power for various energy sources. This chart is shown in kg/MW to illustrate the amount of specialty materials required to generate a MW of power.
If we take the inverse of these numbers, we get the power density graph that is shown below in W/kg.
As you can see, natural gas power generation has the highest power density of the six power sources shown. In fact, it has approximately 5.5 times more power density than solar PV and approximately 13 times more power density as offshore wind power!
Besides taking less mass to produce a unit of power, natural gas power generators have a smaller footprint, can be placed almost anywhere in a microgrid system, and can be designed to have a relatively fast ramp up time.
From the above, it’s evident that while renewables like solar and wind may be important for a sustainable future, their lower power densities mean they require more substantial physical footprints to match the output of fossil fuels. This is where the strategic use of natural gas can provide a balance.
Why Power Density Matters for Microgrids
Microgrids, especially those serving urban areas or critical facilities, often don’t have the luxury of vast expanses of space. Thus, power density becomes a critical consideration. Natural gas generators, with their high power density, can deliver significant power from a compact infrastructure, making them especially suited for space-constrained microgrids.
Moreover, natural gas generators can efficiently address the intermittency of renewables. On days when the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing, the high power density of natural gas can ensure that the microgrid’s energy demand is met.
Power density is a pivotal metric when planning a microgrid’s energy mix. While renewable energy sources bring benefits, their lower power densities necessitate complementary power sources with a compact footprint and high output. Natural gas generators fit this bill perfectly, making them indispensable for microgrids aiming for resilience, efficiency, and sustainability.
If you have any questions regarding this article or if you have a microgrid or power project of any kind that could benefit from a methane powered generator, give us a call at Collicutt Energy at 888.682.6888. We have a team of experts that will work with you to evaluate your project and determine the best fit solution for you.
Selecting an energy source for electricity generation requires careful consideration of various factors including flexibility of the fuel source. Although this is far from an exhaustive list, flexibility factors have to include things like; ease of access, affordability, safety, and transportability. These factors are described in more detail below.
Ease of Access
There are two main components of ease of access that we will cover here:
Methane is a prolific fuel used all over the world for heating, transport, and power generation. As with any fossil fuel, the source is not infinite, but many estimates suggest there is at least 52 years or more left of fossil-based methane (1).
Hydrogen does not exist naturally in nature like hydrocarbons or coal so it must be manufactured. Hydrogen can be produced in a number of ways (e.g., electrolysis, coal gasification, biomass gasification, hydrocarbon processing, etc. (4)) but it is a manufactured gas that “takes energy to produce energy” (6) (7). The energy required to produce hydrogen means that it costs more to produce (see notes below on affordability). It is also complicated to produce, store, and transport so it has been slow to become adopted as a mainstream fuel.
There is already a well-established infrastructure for methane extraction, storage, transportation, and distribution in North America and most of Europe. Natural gas pipelines, refinement, and storage facilities are abundant, allowing for reliable and widespread access.
There is little to no infrastructure existing in the world today for hydrogen gas supply to the everyday consumer. For example, there are approximately 1.5 billion cars on the earth today (2) and only 11,200 of those are hydrogen powered (3). The infrastructure that is in place is not built for hydrogen and will take significant investment to allow for that fuel changeover. This is reinforced by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory website (8) which states; “Hydrogen has very high energy for its weight, but very low energy for its volume, so new technology is needed to store and transport it.” Building out an infrastructure that will support the use of hydrogen as a consumer fuel is just getting started (5) and will probably take decades to achieve.
Because methane is an abundant fuel, it is generally affordable in the western world. Pricing and availability can be impacted by weather or geopolitical events but methane is typically an affordable fuel even if it is transported long distances including via ocean transport (see below for more details).
Conversely, as mentioned above, hydrogen does not exist naturally in nature, so it must be manufactured. This manufacturing process takes energy and creates green house gas emissions. As per the National Renewable Energy Laboratory website (8); “Most hydrogen production today is by steam reforming natural gas. But natural gas is already a good fuel and one that is rapidly becoming scarcer and more expensive. It is also a fossil fuel, so the carbon dioxide released in the reformation process adds to the greenhouse effect.” New and more effective ways of hydrogen production are underway but this will take time before it is an affordable fuel.
There are inherent dangers with the use of any fuel. For example, there is a risk, albeit small, that your gasoline tank on your car may explode in an accident, or that your electric car battery may ignite due to a battery fault, or that a natural gas pipeline may be ruptured by a backhoe. However, each of these “fuel systems” have had many years of refinement and have built in safety designs that now result in extremely safe use of these fuels with very few incidents.
Conversely, there is very little history yet with hydrogen fuel in the marketplace. As per the above quote taken from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, ” . . . new technology is needed to store and transport it. And fuel cell technology is still in early development, needing improvements in efficiency and durability.” The technology development is underway but it will take time to implement it and refine it to the level of safety currently seen with methane.
When it comes to transportability, the infrastructure in the western world for methane is well established with well sites, hydrocarbon processing facilities, pipelines, LNG facilities, etc.
This infrastructure does not yet exist for hydrogen and is still in its infancy. As we can see below, the inherent properties of hydrogen impose some transportation limitations and inefficiencies that add cost and complexity.
In comparing ship-based methane transport to ship based hydrogen transport, hydrogen takes 2.5 times the tanker space to transport the equivalent energy value (in this case 1 TWh). In addition to this, hydrogen boils off at a rate of 1% per day during transport while methane boil off rate is one-tenth of that.
Diagram from Michael Sura depicting the difference in hydrogen vs methane boil off rate.
Similarly, ground transport challenges for hydrogen transport are illustrated in the following diagrams (again sourced from Michael Sura (9).
After careful examination of the flexibility of methane as a fuel source compared against hydrogen, it seems that methane comes out ahead in each of the categories that were examined:
Ease of access
In conclusion, when the flexibility of methane as a fuel is factored into a decision matrix along with EROEI conclusions from Part 2 of this series and the GHG emissions conclusions from Part 1 of this series, one must seriously consider the responsible use of methane as a fuel for electric power generation.
If you have any questions regarding this article or if you have a microgrid or power project of any kind that could benefit from a methane powered generator, give us a call at Collicutt Energy at 888.682.6888. We have a team of experts that will work with you to evaluate your project and determine the best fit solution for you.
As the world seeks to transition to cleaner and more sustainable energy sources, the choice of fuel plays a crucial role in achieving these goals. Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO) has emerged as a promising alternative to conventional diesel fuel. According to Neste Oil (1) it is “the highest quality diesel in the world.”
How is it Made?
HVO is created from a feedstock of various vegetable oils and animal fats. This feedstock is treated to remove impurities (moisture, particles, etc.). It is then mixed with hydrogen gas and fed through a hydrotreating reactor which creates the HVO fuel. It goes through some additional post-reactor purification steps to remove any remaining impurities like sulfur and nitrogen compounds. For more details you can refer to the Beginners Guide to Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil article here (4).
Why is it Important?
HVO is a “drop-in” ready fuel replacement for many diesel engines. This means that HVO can replace diesel fuel in a diesel engine without any modifications or adjustments to the diesel engine. All of mtu’s diesel engines used in their power generation equipment are HVO ready.
Advantages of HVO
It is a more stable fuel than diesel – Diesel fuel that is stored in a tank for any length of time (e.g., standby power generation) requires periodic fuel scrubbing to remove algae that grows in the fuel. HVO is not susceptible to this issue and remains stable over long periods of time.
Mixes seamlessly with diesel – HVO can be added to existing diesel so existing tanks do not have to be drained prior to topping up with HVO.
Lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions – One of the significant advantages of HVO over diesel is its potential for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. HVO fuel has a significantly lower carbon footprint compared to conventional diesel. According to studies (2), HVO can achieve up to 90% CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent) emissions reduction compared to diesel.
Improved air quality – Compared to diesel, HVO offers improved air quality due to its cleaner combustion properties. HVO fuel reduces emissions of harmful pollutants such as particulate matter, nitrogen oxides (NOx), and sulfur oxides (SOx). Dependent on load profiles, a 50% to 80% reduction in particulate matter has been seen.
Improved performance – Switching from diesel to HVO can result in improved engine performance and decreased fuel consumption. In addition to this, when used with mtu diesel engines there is no engine derate (3).
If you need more convincing before you make this change, Rio Tinto has recently moved to HVO fuel for their large vehicles in their California open pit boron mine (6). Sinead Kaufman, Chief Executive Rio Tinto Minerals said: “We are proud that our U.S. Borax operations have become the first open pit mine to operate a fleet running entirely on renewable diesel. This is an excellent example of what happens when internal and external partners collaborate toward a carbon reduction goal. Support from the state of California has also been incredibly important, as without their vision, this would not have been possible.”
Take action now for your standby diesel generators and get improved performance, decreased fuel consumption, less emissions, and longer fuel life! Contact Collicutt today and we will work with you to evaluate your generator and arrange for HVO fuel delivery.
Almost everyone has heard of methane. It is one of the most sought after and utilized hydrocarbons on the planet. Its simple molecular structure, CH4, means that, when used responsibly, it can provide more power with less pollutants than many other fuels including coal, gasoline, and diesel.
Natural Gas (another name for Methane) is used in most homes for heating and is the primary energy source for power generation in many US States(1). Since 2005, the transition in many states from coal to Natural Gas power generation has seen a reduction in CO2 emissions by 42%.
With that being said, many states have come out against the use of Natural Gas, going as far as banning future Natural gas hookups, forcing builders to install electric boilers in lieu.
When we consider the vast amount of energy consumed from methane as a fuel, it is hard to imagine where an alternative source of energy will come from in a relatively short time frame. From this perspective, it is clear that the use of Methane is not going away any time soon; however, we need to be intentional about finding ways of using the fuel source in the most efficient and responsible manner.
Before we go any further, let’s understand a little more about methane: where it comes from, how it stacks up against other energy producing solutions, and how it can be put to use in an environmentally responsible way.
Where Does Methane Come From?
There are 5 main ways that methane is generated:
Methane Generation Type
This is methane produced by biological processes, primarily by methanogenic archaea.
Biogenic methane is the largest source of methane emissions globally.
Typically found in environments such as wetlands, marshes, rice paddies, and the digestive systems of animals.
This type of methane is formed by the thermal breakdown of organic matter under high temperature and pressure conditions.
Thermogenic methane is the primary component of natural gas.
Typically found in fossil fuel deposits such as coal, oil, and natural gas.
Methane can also be formed through non-biological processes. Abiotic methane is generated through chemical reactions, such as the interaction of water and rocks containing hydrocarbons under high temperatures and pressures. This process is known as abiogenic methane formation.
Methane can be released during volcanic eruptions as a result of the heating and degassing of organic matter, such as buried plant material, or the decomposition of organic compounds in magma or volcanic gases
Methanogenesis from CO2 and H2
Some micro-organisms known as methanogens are capable of producing methane by using carbon dioxide (CO2) and hydrogen (H2) as substrates.
This process occurs in environments with low oxygen levels, such as peatlands, sediments, and the gastrointestinal tracts of animals.
Human activities contribute to methane emissions through various processes.
Examples include the production and transport of coal, oil, and natural gas, as well as the management of agricultural waste and landfills.
*Other than anthropogenic methane, all forms of methane production are naturally occurring.
When released into the environment, these naturally occurring forms of methane are considered a Greenhouse Gas (GHG) and can be 23 times more impactful toward climate change than Carbon Dioxide.
Before we explore the potential uses of methane, we need to define greenhouse gases (GHG) and why they need to be minimized.
What Are Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Pollutants?
A greenhouse gas pollutant is a gas that exists in the atmosphere that traps heat from the sun within the atmosphere and potentially contributes to the warming of our planet. Notable GHG pollutants include; carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and fluorinated gases.
The current theories around the warming of our planet show that the temperature of the atmosphere increases as the concentration of GHGs in the atmosphere increases.
Obviously, this is something that we want to avoid so we need to do all we can to reduce or eliminate as many man-made GHG emissions as is reasonably possible.
If the first step in this process is to understand what gases are GHG pollutants (which we identified above), the second step is to establish a comparison standard or a common language so we all understand what is being measured and its potential impact.
One of the current comparison standards for GHG pollutants is to convert them to kilograms of CO2 equivalent per 1000 BTUs of energy produced (e.g., kg CO2e/1000BTU). This measurement tells us the equivalent amount of CO2 created by generating 1000BTUs of energy using the fuel in question.
The chart below normalizes the GHG potential impact of various energy sources against the CO2e standard:
(See these notes for details on Solar (2) and Wind Turbine (3) numbers shown in the chart above).
Although it is not surprising to see that diesel, gas, vented or flared methane have higher GHG emissions than solar or wind, it may be surprising to some to see that methane fueled reciprocating engines have significantly less GHG emissions. In fact, methane fueled reciprocating engines are similar in emissions to solar PV and are less than a 1MW lithium-ion battery.
This is because solar, wind, and battery storage systems require large amounts of material and energy in their manufacturing and installation processes. In addition to this, we must consider that most microgrids require a battery system to store electricity. This means that a 1MW solar installation must include the battery and solar GHG emissions. So, for this example, the total GHG emissions would be 17+11.7 or 28.7 kg CO2e/1000 BTU which is more than double a Methane fueled reciprocating engine.
The Importance of Methane Capture
While methane emissions are a contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions, these emissions can be significantly reduced by capturing and utilizing methane in a responsible manner. The “low-hanging” fruit for methane capture would be things like:
Eliminating methane venting and flaring from every oil and gas facility worldwide, onshore and offshore. North American European producers generally do a good job in this area so focusing on assisting other world areas with technology support and infrastructure upgrades would provide the biggest return on investment.
Implement biogas digesters and capture systems at all wastewater treatment facilities
Implement biogas digesters and capture systems for agricultural and livestock waste
Implement recovery of methane gas from all landfill sites
Capturing methane with techniques like this would go a long way to reducing methane emissions. The next step in this process is to determine how to use the methane to benefit humanity while minimizing the downside to our environment.
Reciprocating engines are commonly used in a variety of applications, including power generation, transportation, and industrial processes. These engines can run on a variety of fuels, including methane, propane, gasoline, and diesel.
When used with methane, reciprocating engines can provide significant environmental and economic benefits. Methane is a cleaner-burning fuel than propane, gasoline or diesel and when used in a reciprocating engine, results in lower greenhouse gas emissions and improved air quality (see list of GHG gases emitting power sources above).
These engines can produce electricity when they are coupled with an alternator and, if you add a heat recovery system to it, you can build a system that is close to 93% efficient (e.g., only loses 7% of the energy burned) while reducing emissions by over 300% compared to vented methane (e.g., allowing methane for wastewater plants to vent directly to the atmosphere).
The Future of Methane Fuel in Reciprocating Engines
While methane emissions are a contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions, they can be significantly reduced through responsible management practices and, at the same time, used to generate cost-effective and reliable electrical power.
Strong regulations and policies are necessary to ensure that methane is managed responsibly, and advancements in technology are playing an important role in methane detection and measurement. As the world continues to transition to a low-carbon economy, the responsible management of methane emissions will be an important part of the solution to address global climate change.
In conclusion, using natural gas in reciprocating engines can provide significant environmental and economic benefits, but it requires responsible management practices, including methane capture. Methane capture allows methane emissions to be reduced and utilized as a fuel source, resulting in a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Advancements in technology are playing an important role in methane detection and measurement, and as the world continues to transition to a low-carbon economy, the responsible management of methane.
If you have any questions around this article or if you have a methane source that you would like to use to create electricity, give us a call at Collicutt at 888.682.6888.