Selected category: General

Aliso Canyon Decisions Must Be About More Than Just Near-Term Safety

openclosedAfter months of speculation, the California agency in charge of setting standards for oil and gas operations (“DOGGR”) this week announced a pair of meetings to take public comment on the reopening of the Aliso Canyon Natural Gas Storage Facility.

This development stems from legislation passed in 2016 (SB 380), and is expected to be among the final steps before Southern California Gas Corporation (SoCalGas) is allowed to restart limited use of the facility. So, while it’s critical for the state to get its decisions right for safety and near-term electric reliability related to Aliso, to fully comply with SB 380, the decisions being made also need to take into account the larger issues facing California today. Read More »

Also posted in Aliso Canyon, California, Methane, Natural Gas| Comments are closed

Super-emitters Are Real: Here Are Three Things We Know

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As part of our landmark 16-study series and ongoing work in measuring methane emissions, we previously published a paper that compared and reconciled top-down (airborne-based measurements ) with bottom-up (emissions inventory, using ground-based measurements) emissions.

This paper found that 1% of natural gas production sites accounted for 44% of total emissions from all sites, or 10% of sites 80% of emissions; emission estimates were based on facility-wide (site-based) measurements. Sites or equipment that produce disproportionate shares of total emissions are often called “super-emitters”. A big question that remained was what caused some sites to become a super-emitter; this remained a “black box” without additional knowledge about which components or operational conditions within a site could trigger the high-emissions.

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A Tale of Two Countries – China’s Betting on Renewable Energy While Trump Dreams of Coal’s Glory Days

solar-panels-1794467_1280That whoosh you just heard was China passing the United States in the race for the 21st century energy economy. Or is it the 21st century jobs race? Or the “world’s only superpower” race? Unfortunately, it might be all three.

Last week, China announced it will invest $361 billion over the next three years in renewable power generation. Compared to the $90 billion dedicated to clean energy in the 2009 stimulus package that was spread over several years, it dwarfs America’s commitment to an industry that nearly every country on Earth agrees will dominate the global energy landscape.

Surely, China’s air quality is playing a role in its government’s planning. The country has a severe air pollution problem – its hazy city skies are as famous as its Great Wall. Still, it would seem strangely out-of-character for China – given its history on environmental issues – to spend three times as much money as the United States on a tree-hugger pipedream.

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Also posted in Clean Energy| Leave a comment

If Israel Can Find Common Ground around the Environment, Why Can’t Texas?

A solar array at the Arava Institute.

A solar array at the Arava Institute.

Deep in the Israeli desert is an academic institute that is building peace in the region by putting nature at its center. The Arava Institute, in partnership with Ben Gurion University, brings students from Israel, Palestine, Jordan, and around the world to find common ground around environmental problems and build trust – and peace – from there.

On a recent trip to Israel, including to the Arava Institute, I was told many times by many people, “Everything is political here.” Water and energy are no exception. In a region where water can be scarce and oil has long reigned as king, the politics of environmental issues are even more extreme than what people in many parts of the world can wrap their heads around.

Of course, environmental issues in Texas – and across the country – can be highly divisive. But polls consistently show Americans want to protect and defend the health of our children and the well-being of our communities. And clean energy can play a critical role: Our nation’s power sector accounts for nearly 40% of U.S carbon emissions – causing health problems such as asthma attacks, heart attacks, and a staggering number of premature deaths every year.

Today, Texas opens its 85th Legislative Session. Wouldn’t it be refreshing if, instead of fighting over taking action on climate change, leaders sat down with a common starting point: to ensure clean, available water and clean air through renewable energy, while maintaining a robust economy? Perhaps we can learn from the Arava Institute and start with our commonalities, like the desire for clean air and clean water, to build cooperation and achieve clean energy progress. Read More »

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New Study Improves Understanding of Natural Gas Vehicle Methane Emissions, But Supply Chain Emissions Loom Large

natural-gas-truckBy Joe Rudek and Jason Mathers

Many commercial fleet operators have considered switching their fleet vehicles from diesel to natural gas to take advantage of the growing abundance of natural gas and reduced emissions. Natural gas trucks have the potential to reduce nitrogen oxides emissions (NOx) from freight trucks and buses.

Yet, adopting the emission reduction technologies and practices needed to curb the methane escaping during the production, transport and delivery of natural gas is critical to unlock the full environmental potential of these vehicles. Methane, the main component of natural gas, is a potent greenhouse gas released to the atmosphere at every step from production wells to the vehicle fuel tanks. Even small amounts of methane emitted across the natural gas supply chain can undermine the climate benefit of fuel-switching vehicles to natural gas for some period of time, as EDF research has shown. Read More »

Also posted in Methane, Natural Gas| Comments are closed

The Value of Pursuing a Rational Middle in Polarized Times

rational-middleAt Energy Dialogues’ North American Gas Forum last month, I had the opportunity to participate on a panel moderated by Gregory Kallenberg of the Rational Middle. While the panel pre-dated the presidential election, the topic of constructive engagement through rational discourse is now more important than ever.

We explored how environmental groups, industry, and other stakeholders need to come together to rationally discuss and collaboratively act on the challenges of meeting rising energy demand while addressing real and growing environmental risks.

The still principally fossil-based energy system, which includes natural gas, is not the only cause of climate change, but it is the largest. And so a range of stakeholders, from protesters holding signs, to investors with a long term interest in the future of natural gas, to industry consumers, are looking with increasing criticism at fossil fuels. That was true before the election, and it’s true today. They’re asking: How can we reconcile the environment we want to protect for the future with the traditional energy and feedstock resources we are using now? Read More »

Also posted in Methane, Natural Gas| Comments are closed
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