Power-to-gas proves the least expensive path to net-zero


Carbon-neutral with power-to-gas is the least expensive option for US utilities seeking to achieve 100% carbon reduction within the operations of energy grid networks over a period of 20 years, according to a new whitepaper released by Wartsila.

The whitepaper is entitled Pathways towards 100% carbon reduction for electric utility power systems helps utilities to explore the costs associated with transitioning to carbon-free and carbon-neutral grid operations.

Carbon-free refers to zero thermal energy in final year or beyond and carbon-neutral means the combustion of renewable fuels only in final year and beyond.

According to the study, utilities can achieve 80% carbon reduction based purely on economics, with no subsidies, mandates or renewable requirements.

Utilities can achieve high renewable penetrations and dramatic carbon emissions reductions independent of policy, driven mainly by the falling price curves of wind, solar and battery storage.

However, they will need to make use of gas to meet energy demand in the event renewables are scarce and battery energy storage cannot cope with the demand.

Related articles;
Amazon announces $2 billion Climate Pledge Fund
EDP joins Europe’s ‘Choose Renewable Hydrogen’ initiative
Spain: New climate law to ban all new coal, oil and gas projects

The cost of moving from 80% carbon reduction to 100% carbon-free requires a 37% cost premium. The increase in cost is in large part due to massive investments in renewable energy and traditional energy storage systems.

Carbon-free with renewables is the most expensive path to reduce carbon emissions within grid networks as it results in ratepayer costs doubling that of a carbon-neutral system, according to the whitepaper.

By leveraging a carbon-neutral model with power-to-gas technologies, US utilities have the ability to;

  • Meet net-zero carbon emission goals suggested by the IPCC
  • Maintain reliability and energy security
  • Install flexible thermal capacity to support renewables, free from stranded asset concerns
  • Minimise costs to ratepayers

Pathways to 100% require additional flexible gas capacity.

“An alternative pathway is to define “100%” in alignment with IPCC requirements of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, which is the same as carbon-neutral. From a climate change perspective, the goal is not to eliminate all forms of CO2, but rather to assure no net increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration. Power-to-Gas uses carbon-free energy to produce renewable methane, CH4,” according to the whitepaper.

Get further detail in the whitepaper.