E3 releases report on decarbonizing pipeline gas in California

By Katie Fletcher, Biomass Magazine.

Energy and Environmental Economics Inc., or E3, released a study in January commissioned by Southern California Gas. The study investigates the potential role decarbonized pipeline gas and existing gas pipeline infrastructure can have in California to help meet the state’s 2050 greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goals.

The study concludes that a technology pathway for decarbonized gas could feasibly meet the GHG emission reduction goals, and may even be easier to implement in some sectors. According to the report, “By 2050 traditional uses of oil and natural gas, including transportation fuels, water and space heating, and industrial boilers and process heating, will need to be mostly, if not fully, decarbonized.”

The study approaches the issue by looking at two “technology pathway” scenarios. The electrification scenario is where most energy end uses are electrified and powered by renewable electricity by 2050. The second scenario is mixed, where both electricity and decarbonized gas play significant roles in the state’s energy supply. In this scenario decarbonized gas replaces existing natural gas demand and fuels heavy-duty vehicles, but renewable energy is used to produce electricity and to power most light-duty vehicles.

In order to identify realistic sources of decarbonized gas, the study identifies three energy carriers for decarbonized gas, each with different primary energy sources: biogas, hydrogen and synthetic natural gas (SNG).