… In January, Duke partnered with Smithfield Foods, the country’s largest hog farming and pork processing company, to take RNG from a $14 million biogas capture and conversion system at its Tar Heel, North Carolina wastewater treatment facility and inject it into its Piedmont Natural Gas system…
Duke Energy Pledges to Eliminate Methane Emissions From Natural Gas Business by 2030
Reaching net-zero carbon by 2050 will require a host of advances from long-duration storage to renewable natural gas, Duke says.
Jeff St. John, GreenTechMedia
October 12, 2020
Duke Energy has upped its net-zero carbon by 2050 goals, pledging to eliminate methane emissions from its natural-gas business by 2030 through a combination of better pipeline leak detection, more efficient operations and investing in renewable natural gas to reduce the carbon-intensity of its supplies.
The new goals outlined in Duke’s environmental, social and governance day presentation on Friday were among a host of incremental advances on last year’s commitment to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The new goals include shifting the $2 billion earmarked for the canceled Atlantic Coast Pipeline project to its $58 billion five-year capital plan, which calls for doubling its share of renewables from 8 gigawatts to 16 GW by 2025…
Methane leakage from natural gas pipelines
Duke's new methane targets are focused on its natural-gas distribution businesses, including Piedmont Natural Gas in the Southeast and its Duke Energy gas business in the Midwest. “We intend to be a leader in reducing methane emissions,” Good said.
Methane, which makes up 96 to 98 percent of natural gas in U.S. pipelines, is about 28 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Recent studies indicate that the U.S. oil and gas industries leak about 2.3 percent of all the natural gas they produce, a level that threatens to overwhelm the carbon emissions reductions to be gained by replacing coal-fired power plants with natural-gas power plants if it’s not brought in check.
Duke has already spent about $1 billion to replace cast iron and bare steel main pipelines with stainless steel and plastic-coated pipes to reduce leakage, said Sasha Weintraub, Duke's senior vice president and chief commercial officer of natural gas, on Friday...
Investment in the renewable natural gas sector
Despite those efforts, the utility "may need some offsets to achieve our goals, and if we do, we’ll be using renewable natural gas,” Weintraub said. Renewable natural gas (RNG) is captured from livestock farms, wastewater treatment plants, landfills and other major sources of rotting organic material, and processed to remove water, carbon dioxide and other contaminants that would otherwise prevent its use in existing natural-gas pipeline systems.
"We're executing a five-year plan to be a leader in the renewable natural-gas space," Weintraub said.
In January, Duke partnered with Smithfield Foods, the country’s largest hog farming and pork processing company, to take RNG from a $14 million biogas capture and conversion system at its Tar Heel, North Carolina wastewater treatment facility and inject it into its Piedmont Natural Gas system. In July, the utility invested in SustainRNG, a company planning to build its first biogas capture and RNG processing projects at dairy cow facilities in the Southeast by next year.
Capturing biogas can yield significant greenhouse-gas reduction benefits...
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