Demonstration shows new electrochemical technology is commercially competitive with other methods of converting the unwanted carbon dioxide in biogas into pipeline-quality renewable natural gas
LOS ANGELES, June 22, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas), Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), and Opus 12 today announced they have demonstrated further advancement of a new electrochemical technology that converts the carbon dioxide content in raw biogas to pipeline-quality renewable natural gas, a critical improvement in the science of upgrading waste emissions to renewable gas.
The single-step process is designed to use renewable electricity, and thus also provides a way for long-term storage of excess wind and solar power. The twelve-month research and development effort was funded by SoCalGas and PG&E and builds on the success of an initial feasibility study in 2018.
Raw biogas is produced from the anaerobic breakdown of waste from sources like landfills, sewage, and dairy farms. It contains roughly 60 percent methane (the main component of natural gas), and 40 percent carbon dioxide. While current biogas upgrading technology removes the carbon dioxide from biogas, this new technology captures the carbon dioxide and converts it into additional renewable fuel.
The new demonstration shows that improved catalyst activity could speed reactions by five times and nearly double conversion efficiency, making the technology commercially competitive with other new biogas upgrading methods. The core technology was scaled up and tested using commercially available electrolyzer hardware. The next step will be to test this technology for longer periods at an existing biogas facility.
"This cutting-edge method of using renewable electricity to convert carbon dioxide in biogas to renewable natural gas in a single-step process is significant to SoCalGas,"
said Yuri Freedman, SoCalGas' senior director of business development. "
As we work to meet California's ambitious climate goals, emissions-reducing innovations like these will help us protect the environment by providing a reliable carbon-neutral fuel."
"PG&E is deeply committed to meeting California's bold vision for a sustainable energy future in a reliable and cost-effective manner for customers. We continue to work toward advancing innovation that provides new possibilities in our quest to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and find alternative sources of carbon-neutral fuel. We are very proud to be part of this collaboration with Opus 12 and SoCalGas,"
said PG&E's Manager of Innovation and Research and Development, Francois Rongere.
"We achieved significant advances in reaction rate and demonstrated the scalability of our approach by moving from lab scale to commercial-grade components," said Dr. Etosha Cave, Opus 12 co-founder and chief science officer. "We look forward to continuing to work with our partners at SoCalGas and PG&E toward a field demonstration of this technology."
"Our vision for deploying this technology in California is to recycle CO2 emissions from industry and agriculture before they reach the air, and create valuable products such as renewable natural gas and feedstocks for everyday materials, chemicals, and even liquid fuels. They are compatible with existing infrastructure, and when produced with renewable electricity, these products will have significantly lower lifecycle emissions than conventional products."
Opus 12, a clean-energy startup with its origins at Stanford University and the prestigious Cyclotron Road program at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, has created a new proprietary Polymer Electrolyte Membrane (PEM) electrolyzer that uses electricity to convert water and carbon dioxide into renewable natural gas in one step. The technology differs from those that use microorganisms.
The research is part of SoCalGas' and PG&E's respective development of cutting-edge technologies for storing excess renewable energy. Because gases can be easily stored for long periods of time using existing infrastructure, these technologies have distinct advantages over storing renewable electricity in batteries.
As part of the COVID-19 recovery, the US Moving Forward Ac
t has been published amid the welcome news
that, if passed by the House of Representatives, the act would at long last, bring the support for the US biogas industry
in-line with the sort of tax incentive support which has long been available to some other renewable energy sources.
This would boost the US Biogas Industry as part of the $1.5 trillion plan to Rebuild American Infrastructure after COVID-19.
Read more in the PR published below:
American Biogas Council Press Release 23 June 2020 (Washington):
Moving Forward Act Can Boost Biogas Industry
The American Biogas Council (ABC) praised the release of the long-awaited infrastructure package by the U.S. House of Representatives entitled, The Moving Forward Act (H.R.2). The $1.5 trillion proposal to rebuild U.S. communities with infrastructure and innovation includes several tax provisions on which the ABC has long labored, to create a more equitable environment where natural market forces can work to build more biogas systems. Because the biogas industry intersects with so many sectors of our economy, when the Moving Forward Act helps boost the biogas industry, it will also surge growth in agriculture, wastewater and municipal recycling infrastructur
e, access to more renewable energy, and more.
Biogas systems recycle organic material into renewable energy and soil products using a natural microbial process called anaerobic digestion. Currently, the US has 2,000 operational biogas systems, and the potential to build nearly 15,000 new biogas systems. If fully realized, these new biogas systems will directly catalyze at least $45 billion in capital deployment which would result in approximately 374,000 short-term construction jobs to build the new systems and 25,000 permanent jobs to operate them. Indirect impacts along supply chains would be even greater.
“The American Biogas Council (ABC) thanks the House for responding to our requests to create more parity in our tax code. The Moving Forward Act can create an environment where the biogas industry can create billions of dollars of new investments to build new recycling and renewable energy infrastructure and simultaneously protecting our air, water, and soil,”
said Patrick Serfass, Executive Director of the ABC.
“The biogas industry plays one of the most underappreciated roles in the renewable energy industry, creating your choice of non-stop renewable electricity, gas, and/or heat, plus natural soil products from recycled organic waste.”
CC BY-SA by EscoPhotog
In particular, the Moving Forward Act includes three tax provisions of importance to the ABC including the creation of an investment tax credit (ITC) for RNG and heat-based biogas systems; the extension of the Section 45 production tax credit (PTC), and related ITC, for electricity-biogas systems; and the extension of the Alternative Fuel Excise Tax Credit for biogas and renewable natural gas used as a vehicle fuel. Furthermore, the bill also recognizes the volatility caused in tax equity markets by the coronavirus and establishes an elective payment for those entities utilizing the PTC or ITC.
Without the Moving Forward Act, the US tax code only supports a sector of the biogas industry
which has rarely benefited from a tax credit extended into the future which would enable developers and investors to build more new projects.
During these times, other renewable and fossil energy technologies have often benefited from long extensions of their tax credits impacting their entire industry and accelerating growth in those sectors while making it difficult for others to obtain financing.
The Moving Forward Act takes a major step towards correcting many of those inequities.
H.R. 2 – The Moving Forward Act: Section by Section
| Bill Text
| Fact Sheet
The American Biogas Council is the only national trade association representing the entire biogas industry in the U.S. We represent over 200 companies in all parts of the biogas supply chain who are dedicated to maximizing the production and use of biogas from organic waste.
Is coal cheaper than renewable energy? Not anymore (!) "renewables cheaper than coal" is what a new report says, we are pleased to say. Renewable energy is here to stay. In a big way! Those readers that are hoping to hear that anaerobic digestion has also become cheaper and more competitive with coal are going to be disappointed we fear. There has been little to no news on that, although the increase in upgraded plants producing biomethane has undoubtedly reduced some upgrading equipment capital costs.
Read on to find out exactly how renewable energy and specifically solar and wind turbines, are on average now cheaper than coal.
This means that there will from now be no economic justification for building new power station capacity.
This will also give a massive boost to solar and wind energy!
(It will also help the world achieve Net-Zero 2050, as pledged by the nations of the world at the Paris 2015 Global Accord.)
Renewables Increasingly Beat Even Cheapest Coal Competitors on Cost
02 June 2020| Press Release:
Competitive power generation costs make an investment in renewables highly attractive as countries target economic recovery from COVID-19, new IRENA report finds.
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, 2 June 2020 — Renewable power is increasingly cheaper than any new electricity capacity based on fossil fuels, a new report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) published today finds. "Renewable Power Generation Costs in 2019
" shows that more than half of the renewable capacity added in 2019 achieved lower power costs than the cheapest new coal plants.
Renewable Power Generation Projects now Increasingly Undercut Existing Coal-fired Plants
The report highlights that new renewable power generation projects now increasingly undercut existing coal-fired plants.
On average, new solar photovoltaic (PV)
and onshore wind power cost less than keeping many existing coal plants in operation, and auction results show this trend accelerating – reinforcing the case to phase-out coal entirely. Next year, up to 1 200 gigawatts (GW) of existing coal capacity could cost more to operate than the cost of new utility-scale solar PV, the report shows.
Replacing the costliest 500 GW of coal with solar PV and onshore wind next year would cut power system costs by up to USD 23 billion every year and reduce annual emissions by around 1.8 gigatons (Gt) of carbon dioxide (CO2), equivalent to 5% of total global CO2 emissions in 2019. It would also yield an investment stimulus of USD 940 billion, which is equal to around 1% of global GDP.
An Important Turning Point in the Energy Transition to Renewables
“We have reached an important turning point in the energy transition. The case for new and much of the existing coal power generation, is both environmentally and economically unjustifiable,” said Francesco La Camera, Director-General of IRENA. “Renewable energy is increasingly the cheapest source of new electricity, offering tremendous potential to stimulate the global economy and get people back to work. Renewable investments are stable, cost-effective, and attractive offering consistent and predictable returns while delivering benefits to the wider economy.
“A global recovery strategy must be a green strategy,” La Camera added. “Renewables offer a way to align short-term policy action with medium and long-term energy and climate goals. Renewables must be the backbone of national efforts to restart economies in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. With the right policies in place, falling renewable power costs
, can shift markets and contribute greatly towards a green recovery.”
Renewable electricity costs have fallen sharply over the past decade, driven by improving technologies, economies of scale, increasingly competitive supply chains, and growing developer experience. Since 2010, utility-scale solar PV power has shown the sharpest cost decline at 82%, followed by concentrating solar power
(CSP) at 47%, onshore wind at 39%, and offshore wind at 29%.
Costs for solar and wind power technologies also continued to fall year-on-year. Electricity costs from utility-scale solar PV fell 13% in 2019, reaching a global average of 6.8 cents (USD 0.068) per kilowatt-hour (kWh). Onshore and offshore wind both declined by about 9%, reaching USD 0.053/kWh and USD 0.115/kWh, respectively.
Recent auctions and power purchase agreements (PPAs) show the downward trend continuing for new projects are commissioned in 2020 and beyond. Solar PV prices based on competitive procurement could average USD 0.039/kWh for projects commissioned in 2021, down 42% compared to 2019 and more than one-fifth less than the cheapest fossil-fuel competitor namely coal-fired plants. Record-low auction prices for solar PV in Abu Dhabi and Dubai (UAE), Chile, Ethiopia, Mexico, Peru, and Saudi Arabia confirm that values as low as USD 0.03/kWh are already possible.
For the first time, IRENA’s annual report also looks at investment value in relation to falling generation costs. The same amount of money invested in renewable power today produces more new capacity than it would have a decade ago. In 2019, twice as much renewable power generation capacity was commissioned than in 2010 but required only 18% more investment.
Read the full report Renewable Power Generation Costs in 2019
ADBA Press Release:
Food waste recycler Andigestion
’s Holsworthy site in Devon has become only the third plant in the UK to achieve certification under a new scheme which recognises good operational, environmental, and health & safety performance.
Holsworthy recycles up to 76,000 tonnes of the south west’s household and commercial food waste each year and through its anaerobic digestion (AD) process, produces 70MWh of clean, green, and eco-friendly electricity per day - enough to power 6,000 homes. The by-product of the process – a mineral-rich, liquid biofertiliser – is used by local farmers as a sustainable alternative to carbon-intensive chemical fertilisers.
The plant, near Bude, has now been certified under the Anaerobic Digestion Certification Scheme
(ADCS), an industry-led initiative designed to raise standards and recognise good practice in the running of AD plants. The scheme provides an independent audit process and reports that help operators to ensure they are meeting required standards and identify areas for improvement. It is managed by the Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association (ADBA), the UK’s trade body for AD.
“Andigestion has always been ahead of the curve in terms of innovation and processes, and the main driver for applying for ADCS certification is our wish to maintain continual improvement,” commented Tom Brown, Compliance Officer at Andigestion. “Certification goes some way to demonstrating that we are on top of things while the compliance system ensures that any changes to the way we operate are made the right way.”
And Mike Lowe, Operations Director at Andigestion added: “Naturally we’re delighted to be one of just three plants in the whole of the UK to be awarded this certification and I am extremely proud of our on-site compliance team and all members of staff whose high standards of management and professionalism enable us to deliver safe and sustainable practices each and every day.”
Sam Hinton, Technical Support Manager at ADBA said: "We congratulate Andigestion for achieving the ADCS certification, which demonstrates their commitment to operational excellence. They will reap obvious benefits from the recognition - not only improved performance and productivity, whilst adhering to high environmental, health and safety standards, but also confidence from their employees, customers, regulators, insurance companies, and neighbours. We're also delighted that, as the first plant to achieve ADCS certification in 2020, they lead the way in showing other operators how to conduct business during these uncertain times."
In addition to its Holsworthy site, Andigestion also operates the Bishops Cleeve AD plant near Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, which recycles up to 34,000 tonnes of food waste a year and which will also be assessed for ADCS certification.
Through the production of biomethane gas which is fed into the national grid, Bishops Cleeve contributes enough energy for around 10,000 homes a year.
- ENDS -
Conferences are essential for the development of science, but global conferences unavoidably entail an enormous amount of travel and much of that is for high carbon-emitting air-flights
. Through necessity, the WBA adapted to coronavirus by running an online eFestival of Biogas. I attended throughout and it was a raging success. The hope now is that post-corona their eFestival will become the most common way to hold such events.
For once people are saying "life will never be the same after COVID-19", but in a good way, about this. Read-on to find out more. Don't forget to enrol and attend the next one!
WBA Press Release:
First World Biogas eFestival keeps vibrant international dialogue going whilst making a carbon saving equivalent to planting over 6.5K trees
The World Biogas eFestival, organised last week by the World Biogas Association (WBA) to maintain the international dialogue amid global Covid-19 lockdowns, proved to be a great success with over 300 participants joining the four-day online event from 48 countries around the world.
WBA has estimated that this has prevented a carbon footprint of 402 tonnes CO2e which would have been generated if a physical event had been held. This is the equivalent of planting 6,650 trees, saving emissions from using 930 barrels of oil or removing the annual emissions of 180 cars.
Delegates attended the virtual event from all world continents (bar Antarctica) to hear representatives from United Nations bodies, US Congress, the World Bank, the International Energy Agency, as well as industry leaders, sharing insights into the opportunities and challenges faced by the biogas industry as it grows on a global scale.
Research by the WBA has shown that fully deployed, with the right support from world governments, the biogas industry could reduce global greenhouse gases emissions by 12% by 2030. This equates to the proportion of global emissions generated by the US in 2012. The sector would also create between 11 and 15 million jobs worldwide within that timescale, supporting a green economic recovery.
The content of the eFestival will feed into the WBA’s next report – Pathways to 2030 – which will draw a roadmap towards achieving the 12% objective. The report is scheduled for publication in the Autumn.
WBA President David Newman said:
“We were delighted with the success of the first World Biogas eFestival. The number and calibre of the people from all over the world who engaged in the discussions demonstrates the appetite there is for biogas to play its part not only in ensuring a green recovery from the global recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, but also in securing the long- term response to the climate emergency. The content and expertise we gathered last week will be invaluable as we set the path towards realising our industry’s full potential.
Moreover, the carbon footprint reduction we gained from hosting this event online has showed that it is possible to host truly international events whilst protecting the environment – something that we can be very proud of.”
– ENDS –
Launched at COP22 in Marrakesh in 2016, the World Biogas Association is the global trade association for the biogas, landfill gas, and anaerobic digestion (AD) sectors, and is dedicated to facilitating the adoption of biogas globally. It believes that the global adoption of biogas technologies is a multi-faceted opportunity to produce clean, renewable energy while resolving global issues related to development, public health, and economic growth.
The industry’s ability to achieve 12% GHG emissions reduction by 2030 was established in the WBA’s Global Potential of Biogas
report – highlighting the potential of AD as a technology to generate renewable energy, abate GHG emissions and recover organic nutrients and carbon for use on soil. The report also sets out the potential of AD to help meet the climate change targets under the Paris Agreement.
The carbon footprint saved by the eFestival was calculated as follows:
- Emissions from theoretical international and domestic flights were estimated using BEIS (2019) conversion factors for average emissions (kgCO2e) per km of travel for an average passenger on either short- or long-haul flights.
- For international travel, analysis was based on air travel and the distances between countries’ central points (e.g. centre of Australia to centre of UK, where a physical event would have been held). The analysis assumes that each attendee flies directly both to and from the UK. Distances were classified as short-haul for less than 2,750km and as long-haul for distances over than 2,750km, in line with the conversion factors’ methodology.
- For domestic travel within the UK, the analysis was based on distances from countries’ central points to the Birmingham NEC. Again, BEIS (2019) conversion factors were used to estimate emissions (kgCO2e) per km of travel via theoretical car-travel to and from England, Scotland and Wales and domestic flights to and from Northern Ireland.
- The estimated 11-15 million permanent jobs created by the biogas sector is based on direct and indirect jobs created per MW installed capacity, as estimated by NNFCC in their report “UK jobs in the bioenergy sector” (2013). The range of values represents the extent to which power-to-gas is integrated with AD plants to upgrade biogas to biomethane.
- Countries represented at the World Biogas eFestival were:
Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Columbia, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, England, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, Nigeria, Northern Ireland, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, the Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Scotland, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Surinam, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, the United States of America, Uruguay, Wales.
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