SDG&E proposes piping methane gas from wasteUnited States
San Diego Union Tribune
Onell R. Soto
San Diego Gas & Electric is proposing putting methane from landfills, sewage plants or farms in its pipelines, a move that would take greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere, trash out of landfills and make money.
The proposal comes after the company recently approved a first-of-its kind move to use its pipelines to move surplus methane produced at the Point Loma Wastewater Treatment plant to the University of California San Diego and a sewage pumping station in Otay Mesa.
While that project and this proposal aren't related, the concept is the same — take methane produced from waste, clean it up to pipeline quality, and then use a similar amount elsewhere to make power you can call "renewable”.
"When you look at the technology advances all around us... what we do with our waste today, and the value we get from our waste, is Neanderthal”, said Hal Snyder, SDG&E's vice president of customer relations.
"Turning that waste to energy is not a question of if, it's a question of when”, he said.
SDG&E made the proposal in conjunction with sister company Southern California Gas Co. Together, the two companies have more customers than any other natural gas utility in the country.
Methane is produced by microbes eating decaying waste. It's a powerful greenhouse gas, and it's also the primary ingredient in natural gas, which is methane trapped underground from living organisms that died millions of years ago.
Efforts to capture methane have faced problems because of expense, but there are some success stories.
For instance, SoCalGas is working with an onion farm in Oxnard, where waste that had been spread on fields is instead turned into methane and then into electricity using fuel cells.
SDG&E proposes to make deals with owners of landfills, sewage plants, farms and restaurants to take their waste, build plants that help it decompose, capture the methane, then clean it up to put it in pipelines.
It is going to sell the project as giving them a way to get rid of some of their waste, offering a way to make money and helping the state meet greenhouse-gas-reduction goals.
The company plans to test the concept in an Escondido sewage plant.
That gas can then be used to power vehicles or make electricity. Because the gas comes from waste, it qualifies as a biofuel, and the electricity as renewable.
Also, because of the pipeline component, the electricity doesn't have to be made in the same place as the gas is. In fact, Snyder said, it will be possible to feed that gas into existing power plants, making them producers of green power.
Systems to generate, capture and clean methane from waste are expensive, so such gas right now is more expensive than natural gas out of the ground, he said.
But the power made from it should be cheaper than other forms of renewable electricity, like wind and solar.
California utilities are required to increase how much power they get from renewable sources. State laws also encourage the reduction of greenhouse gases and an increase in the production of biofuels.
SDG&E won't raise rates to pay for the project, which will be funded from shareholder funds, Snyder said.
But if such projects make money, the profits will be split between lowering rates and making money for shareholders.
Each facility will cost several million dollars, depending on how big it is and where it's located.
El contenido de las noticias que se presentan en esta sección es responsabilidad directa de las agencias emisoras de noticias y no necesariamente reflejan la posición del Gobierno de México en este u otros temas relacionados.
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