Can gas help fight climate change?

by Milan on January 27, 2011

in Climate change, Economics, Unconventional gas

There is an interesting debate ongoing on The Economist‘s website:

This house believes that natural gas will do more than renewables to limit the world’s carbon emissions.

It’s possible that burning gas could do more good than harm, but only in a rather special set of circumstances. The gas would have to be displacing even dirtier forms of energy – such as coal – and do so without delaying the global transition to a zero-carbon economy.

Of course, switching to gas isn’t always motivated by environmental concerns.

Also, while gas might be a preferable alternative to coal in the short-term, it is ultimately an exhaustible resource. In order to become sustainable, the global economy must develop a renewable energy basis for itself.

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. February 1, 2011 at 10:21 pm

Bullfrog adds natural gas to green portfolio
RICHARD BLACKWELL
From Tuesday’s Globe and Mail

Bullfrog Power Inc., the electricity reseller that markets clean renewable power in six provinces, is about to start selling “green” natural gas as well.

Bullfrog collects a premium price for the electricity it sells to homeowners and businesses who want to be seen as green. Although those customers continue to use power that comes off the energy grid, Bullfrog supplies the grid with an equivalent amount of power from sources such as wind and hydro.

The premium charged is used to invest in new clean power operations, and to pay higher prices to green power suppliers.

Now that model is being applied to natural gas, Bullfrog president Tom Heintzman said. He is set to announce Tuesday that the company has signed Kraft Canada Inc. as its first customer for a pilot project in which premium-priced “green” gas will be used at the food company’s Dad’s Cookies manufacturing and packaging facilities in Toronto.

While Kraft will continue to use natural gas obtained from its local gas suppliers, Bullfrog will inject into the TransCanada Corp. pipeline system an equivalent amount of “green” gas collected from a landfill project near Montreal that it has established with a waste management partner.

What makes landfill gas less environmentally damaging, Mr. Heintzman said, is that it is collected from decaying organic matter that would have released carbon dioxide into the atmosphere through a natural cycle – whether the landfill gas was burned or not. On the other hand, burning conventional gas gleaned from underground deposits adds CO2 to the atmosphere that would otherwise have remained sequestered.

Mr. Heintzman acknowledged that he “has to nail” his explanation so that people understand the difference. If he can get the message across, he said, “we hope we can build a market to make this popular, and if it becomes popular then it can be extended across the country.”

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