Northwest Natural Gas Company's Plan For A Carbon Neutral Gas System

Environment: NPR
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Fossil fuel companies are facing an existential threat governments and businesses promising to zero carbon emissions to fight climate change. In fact president biden wants to do that for the entire. Us economy by the middle of this century so a growing number of gas companies have their own plans to decarbonise. Here's cassandra profeta of oregon public broadcasting. Darren arnold lights the burners on a natural gas stove at a testing facility near portland oregon. He's using a new lower carbon gas mixture for northwest natural gas utility that serves nearly eight hundred thousand customers burner. We're looking for an ice blue flame. Mice little peaks on the tips of the plan. It works just like a regular guest of and that's a key part of his company's plan to build a carbon neutral gas system by twenty fifty km hiding is the senior vice president of operations for north west natural. She says her company's pipelines vast network of them don't have to deliver fossil fuels. Let's use them differently. Let's think about the gas grid as we think about the electric grid and just change with going through those pipes. She says northwest natural could continue fueling home furnaces and industrial plants with renewable natural gas. Here's how it work i. They'd capture the methane. That's being emitted from rotting food. How manure and sewage treatment plants and put that gas into the company's pipelines hiding says burning that is a way of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and providing a very similar climate benefit to wind and solar the supply of waste methane is limited though so the company would then mix that lower carbon gas with hydrogen gas. Which has no carbon emissions hiding says her company could even make its own. Hydrogen gas northwest naturals talking with an electric utility about building production. Plant it would use renewable electricity to make hydrogen gas by splitting the hydrogen from the oxygen and water think about the natural gas distribution storage system as a massive battery for wind and solar energy. The rest of the world is kind of already on this and in the us. Were a little bit behind. Evan ramsey works with nonprofit bonneville environmental foundation to increase renewable energy. he says making hydrogen would be a great way to use the extra wind solar and hydropower that we can't easily store. The european union is already offering incentives for companies to do just that a hydrogen pretty well suited to solve a lot of problems at once and really be this june afire between renewable energy and our society's energy needs sadat with the environmental group earthjustice says renewable gas simply can't replace all the natural gas using today. You don't even have enough of this gas to make more than a dent in the overall gas demand. There's also a limit to how much hydrogen you can use and metal pipes without causing damage. He says and a lot of waste. Methane isn't renewable in the same way as when in solar the sun hostage shine in the wind has to blow but we don't have to raise animals on factory farms that create these lagoons of manure that generate this amount of methane. Scott says we'll have to use way less gas to completely get rid of carbon. Emissions group is pushing cities to outright ban natural gas hookups.

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