Biogas and the Shale Gas Bonanza

+ Comment now It is the odorless and invisible 500-pound gorilla in the room. Currentl hailed as the antidote to !.". energ insecurit and a bridge #uel #or the $%st centur , natural gas is ever bit as #ossil as its coal and petroleum cousins. &ut #or clean energ , which is coming o## a stimulus-#ueled high and '%00-dollar-plus oil run, could it be a death knell( M colleague )err -*nn *damson has looked at this +uestion #rom the point o# view o# "mart ,nerg overall. Man , including ,nerg Central editor )en "ilverstein, believe that, indeed, cheap natural gas is cutting o## the air #or man #orms o# clean energ . In m world o# bioenerg , the accelerating development and availabilit o# biogas, a renewable #orm o# natural gas, indicates that natural gas surge could actuall hasten the transition to clean energ , not impede it. In $00-, the !.". passed .ussia to become the world/s largest producer o# natural gas. ,stimates suggest that at $0%0 consumption rates, the !.". has enough recoverable natural gas resources to suppl over a centur o# use. Meanwhile, the 0 me1 price has dipped below '2 per million &ritish thermal units 3MM&tu4, down #rom nearl '%5 #our ears ago. 6he glut has anal sts in the !.". scrambling to recalibrate energ #orecasts and renewable energ pro7ect developers searching #or new o##-take partners to make pro7ect economics pencil out. 6he boom in shale gas has stripped renewable energ o# two o# its ke arguments8 that a heav reliance on #ossil #uels is %4 contributing to irreversible climate weirdness9 and, since these #ossil #uels tend to come #rom ne#arious nations, $4 making the !nited "tates increasingl energ insecure. :ith respect to mitigating climate change, studies point to natural gas being less carbon intensive than coal and potentiall oil as well. *s #or energ securit , the sudden bount o# domestic carbon is #uelling what could be a huge shi#t in !.". transportation #uel, awa #rom petroleum-based #uels to compressed and li+uid natural gas, and potentiall h drogen and #uel cells, longer term. Crossing the Biogas Bridge Man believe the natural gas bonan;a ma be a transition #uel #or the larger clean energ trans#ormation. <ohn =odesta, #ormer chie# o# sta## to e1-=resident &ill Clinton and now head o# the Center #or *merican =rogress in :ashington writes that natural gas can serve >as a bridge #uel to a $%st-centur energ econom that relies on e##icienc , renewable sources, and low-carbon #ossil #uels.? 0o renewable is in a better position to cross this bridge #irst than biogas. @astl underutili;ed, biogas is essentiall natural gas that is produced in a matter o# millions o# seconds rather than millions o# ears. 6he result o# anaerobic digestion A a naturall occurring process in which bacteria #eed on organic matter in the absence o# o1 gen A biogas is commerciall produced in anaerobic digesters 3*B4 and land#ill gas recover #acilities designed to treat biowastes such as manure, sewage, energ
Mackinnon Lawrence, Contributor

is virtuall identical to natural gas. it can be distributed as C0C. a notion unheard o# in man clean energ technolog circles. bringing it up to the +ualit level o# natural gas..". "hould a massive natural gas in#rastructure build-out take place to move shale resources to market.crops. or in pipelines via gasto-grid in7ection. avoiding man o# the blending constraints ou see with an alternative like ethanol. *s =ike . essentiall puri#ied methane. Longer term. particularl as a potential renewable #uel that can satis# advanced bio#uels mandates under the . but without the #racking. L0C. .e on a #ree ride to widespread scale up. *lthough upgrading biogas to pipeline +ualit results in a #uel considerabl more e1pensive than natural gas.. in the !. one model that can reduce costs and concentrate suppl is the development o# communit biogas hubs. biogas could emerge as a clean energ Cinderella stor over the ne1t decade.D"$4 and emerging Low Carbon Duel "tandards 3LCD"4. 6his renewable natural gas. the economics #or generating electricit #rom biogas are dismal. upgrading costs can be de#ra ed among all producers. with signi#icant untapped #eedstock potential.". Leveraging natural gas in#rastructure.enewable Duel "tandard 3. !sing gathering in#rastructure that is shared across several smaller-scale biogas producers linked via a pipeline network to an upgrading #acilit . biomethaneis starting to gain momentum in the !. It/s a #ull #ungible alternative. 6he challenge #or the biogas industr will be scaling up in economical wa s. b leveraging shale gas in#rastructure. Currentl . raw biogas can be stripped o# carbon dio1ide and other trace gases. and organic matter. biogas is poised to capitali. &ut with emerging technologies.esearch/s anal sis in our upcoming biogas report shows.