Category: Events

BLOG: Are massive capital investments in low carbon technologies enough to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?

Our guest speaker, Dr Pratima Rangarajan

In this blog, PhD researcher at Imperial College’s Sustainable Gas Institute (SGI) – Diego Moya reflects on the recent SGI Annual Lecture: Practical Action for a lower carbon footprint by CEO of Oil and Gas Climate Initiative Climate Investments, Dr Pratima Rangarajan. 

On the 30 October 2019, the SGI hosted Dr. Pratima Rangarajan, the first Chief Executive Officer of the newly formed climate investments company: The Oil and Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI). The 13 OGCI member companies represent 32% of the global oil and gas production and have invested US$ 6.5 billion altogether in low carbon technologies by 2019. OGCI Climate Investments aims to accelerate the development and deployment of innovative technologies that have the potential to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions on a significant scale across the globe.

Drawing upon her rich experience on the energy arena, Dr. Rangarajan has been the General Manager of GE’s Onshore Wind Product Line and GE’s Energy Storage as well as the Deputy Chief Technology Officer and Senior Vice President at Vestas Wind Systems.

Medium-term investments for long-term impacts   

Source: OGCI presentation, IEA WEO 2018

As three quarters of the total greenhouse gases come from the power and industry sectors, the OGCI initiative has set a target to invest US$ 1 billion-plus in those sectors over the next decade, focusing on long-term impact. With this investment, OGCI members expect to seriously reduce their collective methane emissions by approximately 0.6 million tonnes. This is greater than a third of the methane produced annually by the end of 2025.

OGCI Climate Investments has identified three main aims of their capital investment practices: (1) Reducing methane emissions; (2) Reducing carbon dioxide, CO2, emissions; and (3) developing carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS), which they also called “Recycle & store carbon dioxide”. Let’s elaborate on these aims:

  1. 1. Reducing methane emissions  
Source: Slide from OGCI presentation

After carbon dioxide (CO2), methane emissions are the second most abundant anthropogenic GHG present in oil & natural gas systems, combustion, and certain industrial processes. Methane is more than 25 times as potent as CO2 at trapping heat in the atmosphere and accounts for approximately 20% of global emissions. Thus, significant GHG reductions can be achieved by a rapid and effective drop of manmade methane in the atmosphere.

OGCI plans to reduce methane emissions by investing in five technologies in three specific stages (detection, measurement and mitigation) of methane mitigation. At the detection stage, a global satellite-based remote sensing technology, GHGSat, provides greenhouse gas monitoring services to accurately detect facility-level emissions. Then, Kairos Aerospace and a drone-based technology SeekOps measure methane emissions. In the mitigation stage, both ClarKe Valve and Kelvin technologies have collectively reduced methane intensity of OGCI members by 9% in 2018. These technologies in all stages finally contribute in improving productivity while reducing emissions.

Source: Screenshot of GHGSat website

2. Reducing CO2 emissions 

CO2 emissions account for about 70% of global anthropogenic GHG emissions. In contrast with the short-lived of methane, CO2 can remain in the atmosphere from a few years to thousands of years. The second focus of OGCI Climate Investments is reducing CO2 emissions through increasing energy efficiency in the industry, transport and buildings sectors. Since almost two-thirds of primary energy is lost from production to end-use, OGCI’s actions are focused on improving energy efficiency and reducing wasted energy. In the industry sector, OGCI invests in the Boston Metal technology which cost-competitively produce emissions-free steel.

Three technologies (Achates, XL, Norsepower) have also received OGCI investment to provide high fuel-efficiency opposed-piston engines, plug-in hybrid heavy-duty commercial vehicles, and mechanical rotor sails for ships, respectively. In the buildings sector, the 75F technology enables energy savings from heating, cooling and lighting, providing a joint hardware and software product to manage energy consumption in commercial buildings. These energy efficiency technologies target the 40% of the abatement required by 2040 to meet the Paris Agreement goals.

3. Recycle & store carbon dioxide 

CCUS is being mainly applied in industry and power sectors, involving (1) the capture of CO2 from fuel combustion and industrial processes, (2) the transport of CO2, and (3) its use to create other products or services, or its storage in geological formations. To accelerate the CCUS industry, OGCI Climate Investments is developing 5 CCUS hubs via private and public partnerships worldwide.

This aims to create the necessary market conditions (policies) for substantial investments by OGCI member companies to decarbonise industry hubs around the globe. OGCI Climate Investments has made investments in five technologies for recycling and storing CO2, ranging from CCUS in enhanced oil recovery fields to CO2-based concrete cured and CO2-based polyurethane products.

Are massive capital investments in low carbon technologies enough to reduce greenhouse gas emissions? 

In my opinion, clearly, not. Unfortunately, capital practices, technology development and the natural conditions of the planet for sustainable production are clearly incompatible. If we want to limit the temperature increase to less than 2 degrees by 2100, we must dramatically reduce human-activity-based emissions, starting right now in industrialised countries. However, it is difficult for global companies to fully accept this proposal because it is incompatible with their businesses. Massive investments in low-carbon technologies would be certainly not enough. We also need to “invest” in a change toward an ecological civilization.

We have not yet decoupled economic growth (GDP) from carbon emissions. The challenge is for developing economies that may suffer from runaway emissions in a close future. We can see that the technological development is triggered/driven by capital forces of global companies which also leads to the full development of the negative aspects of technologies in the fact that capital can take advantage of even the ecological disaster that the same capital-intensive companies have greatly created. Inventing new business opportunities to benefit the capital from the current economic and environmental crisis would clearly exceeds the natural limits of the planet and is indeed a contradiction with the current level of human civilization. Decoupling GDP from carbon emissions will certainly require a set of environmental policies and a move to less carbon-intensive economy sectors.

A serious commitment to global warming simultaneously requires a conscious struggle against the way we use and consume energy and materials. Energy AND material flows should be jointly assessed which will require to explore the energy consumption and consumerism toward the production of unnecessary goods. Recent scientific progress has identified that a critical analysis of combined economic policy and natural sciences is needed for a radical change in the increased of energy demand and materials consumption across whole economy sectors.

We truly need to re-establish production systems that strike a balance between human beings’ progress making sure we use our natural resources sustainably. This radical change should not only consider massive capital investments in low-carbon technologies but also leaving fossil fuels in the ground, exponentially increase the deployment of renewables and most importantly changing the growth paradigm, where the planet’s resources and the natural environment must be handled with care.

More about Diego’s research can be found here.


Investigating the state of low-carbon transport policies at COP22

Last week, Arnaud Koehl, a PhD researcher at the Department of Primary Care and Public Health at Imperial College, attended the United Nations Conference of the Parties COP22 climate conference in Marrakech. Arnaud is investigating the kind of sustainable transport policies that could co-benefit health and the economy while addressing climate change.


The importance of transport in combating climate change

The transport sector represents about 14% of worldwide greenhouse gases emissions (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change IPCC, 2010). More worryingly, the International Energy Agency (IEA) projects a huge growth in private motorised modes of transport; according to these estimates, there will be around 2 billion cars on the roads by 2040! It is therefore paramount that we find low-carbon pathways that will meet the increasing demand for mobility.

So how will these transport emissions (addressed by the Paris Agreement) be enforced by 2020? The way the Agreement is framed relies on the good will of each nation or signatory: countries put forward policies to reduce greenhouse gases emissions for each economic sector (e.g. industry, agriculture, housing) themselves. The legal name for these voluntary targets is “Intended Nationally Determined Contribution” (INDC). This architecture provides the flexibility needed to address climate policies according to the local context. This strategy proved to be quite successful as three out of four of all countries mention transport in their INDCs.

Cycle-sharing demonstration scheme in front of COP22

Lessons from COP22: Chinese engagement, policy trends and international cooperation

In the spirit of the Paris Agreement, COP22 proposes a “strong vision, light touch”. I was particularly interested in what this meant for China. The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), an important governmental body, just released a report titled “China’s policies and actions for addressing climate change – 2016” .

This report mentions that fuel efficiency improved by 15.9% (2005) for private cars and ships and by 13.5% (2016) for the civil aviation sector. A director at the NDRC, whom I interviewed, stressed that this was the result of an emphasis on “green, circular, low-carbon” policies imposed on the private sector within the 12th (2011 -2015) and 13th  (2016-2020) five-year plans of the Chinese government. He was also clear on the fact that these policies are being tested and implemented through thousands of projects around China.

In terms of transport modes, I found a clear consensus on acknowledging the benefits of implementing bus-1678945_640Bus Rapid Transit systems across populated urban areas. These are dedicated lanes, typically in the center of the road. The increased use of trains and trams were also leading to a consensus between representatives from differing nations, such as Ethiopia and the United States. Smarter forms of using private motorised modes, such as carpooling, car-sharing, on-demand taxis were also seen as potential ways of reducing emissions.


Beyond its final results, COP22 was also the opportunity to seal partnerships to spread good practices internationally. Initiatives from official actors and civil society are soaring in an attempt to implement green policies on time. A good example is Mobilise Your City, gathering 100 cities around the world supporting local governments in developing countries to plan and foster sustainable low-carbon urban mobility. A core belief that Mobilise Your City is promoting among its members is that improving mobility is only relevant if there is a net well-being effect.

How research at the Sustainable Gas Institute can help

muse-2At the start of the year, I was working on the transport module of a new energy systems model developed by researchers at Sustainable Gas Institute (SGI), Imperial College London. The model is called MUSE (Modular Universal energy system Simulation Environment). The aim is that industry will be able to use the model for technology and R&D roadmapping, while it will help international governments make future plans for climate change mitigation.

Uses of the MUSE Model

MUSE could help answer key COP22 issues. Many participants at COP-22 stressed the lack of research on freight transport, despite the fact that it represents half of overall transport emissions. By taking into account freight-related transportation, MUSE enables us how to assess how policy-makers could avoid unwanted developments, such as a spread of high polluting cars, by looking at the incidence of the price of new technologies based on factors such as economic growth.

Another major opportunity would be to look at the improvement in fuel efficiency of current technologies, such as diesel, petrol and hybrid. Indeed, the share of electric vehicles in the world’s fleet will soar, but fossil fuel powered vehicles will remain an important part of the equation until 2050.

electric-car-558344_640Finally, the MUSE model allows to test such interventions at the national level, which is a relevant scale as powerful policy-makers are often found in capitals. Sanjay Sath, from The Energy and Resources Institute, and Jose Viegas, from the International Transportation Forum expressed the necessity of adopting a dual approach, by implementing national policies at the local level. In that perspective, many highlighted the critical need to get more indicators measuring the progress of environmental policies on the ground to ensure of actual improvement of well-being. An example of such indicators is the proximity of public transport to social housing.

MUSE could make the most of the currently available data in order to give an insight on the future place of transport in urban dynamics, and thus help calculating these indicators further.

You can find out more about MUSE here.

SGRI 2016 Conference: My reflections on natural gas innovation and sustainability in Brazil

Dr Julia Sachs, a Research Associate at the Sustainable Gas Institute shares some insights from this year’s Sustainable Gas Research and Innovation 2016 conference.Conference logo

Last month, I had the opportunity to attend the first annual conference in natural gas sustainability and innovation, which took place in São Paulo, Brazil. One of the main aims of the conference, co-organised by the Sustainable Gas Institute (SGI) and Research Centre for Gas Innovation (RCGI), was to bring together international stakeholders from academia and industry, and to explore the role of natural gas in the global energy landscape and a low carbon world.

Deep offshore wave generator tank

São Paulo was an excellent location for the conference as it’s a key industrial hub in Brazil, and also responsible for 10.7% of Brazilian GDP.

Before the conference, we had the opportunity to tour around the University of São Paulo (USP) campus (where RCGI is based) and find out more about the research taking place at our sister institute, in the Laboratories of the Mechanical Engineering and Chemical Engineering departments.

It was really impressive to see the numerous experimental setups and how theoretical research was directly brought into practice. The highlight for me was the virtual reality simulator used for guiding boats into ports and also the deep offshore wave generator tank which serves as model for testing the durability of design for ships, renewable energy devices and offshore structures.

For the Olympics, the tank had even been programmed to generate an image of the Brazilian flag. You can see the video in this tweet.

The two day conference started with the directors from the co-hosting organisations, Prof  Nigel Brandon (SGI) and Prof Julio Meneghini (RCGI) introducing the keynote speakers, Dr Rob Littel (General Manager Gas Separation from Royal Dutch Shell) and Prof. Carlos Henrique de Brito Cruz (Scientific Director from FAPESP, the São Paulo Research Foundation).

RCGI / Conference 2016 - São Paulo - Sustainable Gas Research & Inovation Conference 2016, no Hotel Mercure. Rob Littel,General Manager Gas Separation, Shell Foto:Luiz Prado / LUZ
Dr Rob littel from Royal Dutch Shell

Dr Rob Littel emphasised the current challenges faced by the industry; CO2 regulations, a lower oil price, and rising energy demand which will require a diverse energy landscape and a combination of fossil fuels and renewables as well as new innovations. Dr Littel described two promising separation technologies; the next-generation post combustion capture of CO2 potentially using solid sorbents and carbon molecular sieve membranes for natural gas separation to achieve a reduction of the amount of space required and up to 60% cost savings.

He also emphasised the need for a strong collaboration between universities and industry to successfully face these challenges, and that the role universities such as Imperial College and University of  São Paulo (USP) will play in identifying the most promising technology pathways.

RCGI / Conference 2016 - São Paulo - Sustainable Gas Research & Inovation Conference 2016, no Hotel Mercure. Carlos Brito, FAPESP. Foto:Luiz Prado / LUZ
Prof Carlos Henrique de Brito Cruz from FAPESP

The second keynote was Prof. Carlos Henrique de Brito Cruz, who emphasised the role of Brazil in meeting these challenges, in particular São Paulo as an unique city/state with significant economic, research and academic importance.

In Brazil, nearly half (47%) of power is from renewables such as biofuels. He also mentioned how Brazil is the world’s second largest producer of ethanol fuel which uses an exclusive blend of ethanol and gasoline to run light vehicles. The question is how to integrate renewables with natural gas.

While travelling around São Paulo, we were aware of one of the major problems facing the city. Huge traffic jam build ups to 100km long are common. Prof. Carlos Henrique de Brito Cruz mentioned this congestion issue, and the resulting high CO2 emissions which requires technological innovations.

The core of the conference consisted of a series of talks about ongoing projects of the RCGI and SGI covering a wide range of topics in areas such as engineering, physics, chemistry, modelling, economics, policy, and energy efficiency all under the linked to drive the wider research field of sustainable gas innovations.

In total, RCGI has 29 projects in different phases of a technology’s life cycle.

As a member of the Energy System Modelling team, it was of particular interest to me to identify how energy models that could be applied to the different projects.

In particular, Energy Systems Models such as those being developed at SGI (MUSE) will play an increasingly influential role to identify trends in the energy market, the effects of policy regulations and the requirements needed and necessary actions to meet different environmental and economic objectives.

A diagram of the MUSE model

MUSE is designed to generate plausible transitions of energy systems towards a low carbon economy with a specific focus on the role of gas in delivering a more sustainable future.

One of the highlights of the conference was the panel discussion “An international perspective: Innovation in natural gas”. The list of speakers included global experts from academia, government and industry to discuss the opportunities and challenges with natural gas as well as to give a perspective about the innovation technologies that might be required.

RCGI / Conference 2016 - São Paulo - Sustainable Gas Research & Inovation Conference 2016, no Hotel Mercure. Prof. Jim Watson. Foto:Luiz Prado / LUZ
Dr Jim Watson and the panel

Some key points were highlighted during the discussion:

  • Natural gas needs to be considered as an isolated solution but as part of the global energy mix.
  • New technologies (e.g. CCS) are needed to enable an efficient use of natural gas to meet the agreements of the COP-21
Credit: The Economist

Although, there exists some common points about the future of natural gas across the world, the problems individual countries face and the role of natural gas is surprisingly different. For example, in the UK, the national gas consumption is already declining. While, in contrast, natural gas presents a promising solution to limit emissions in coal dominated markets such as China.

Research from the International Energy Agency (IEA) generally shows that natural gas is likely to play a crucial role in two main areas: in the transport and the power sectors. In particular, there is a trend for the use to substitute coal in the OECD counties and as an addition to the energy mix in non-OECD regions to meet the rising energy demand while simultaneously limit emissions. The US has a large amount of natural gas as ethane resources which raises the problem of how to cost efficiently export natural gas and also how best to use the ethane.

One of the take home messages for me was that there are different drivers in different parts of the world based on the availability of gas, the accessibility, the price and in particular the existing energy mix but all aim to limit emission and require innovations to reach these goals.

Julia is a Research Associate working on the MUSE energy systems model at the Sustainable Gas Institute.

The next Sustainable Gas Research Innovation conference will take place on September 17th and 18th in 2017. Please email for further information. 


4 things you should know about World’s Energy Outlook Post COP21

A blog from an event organised by the Grantham Institute and Energy Futures Lab– Imperial College London.

On Friday 26th February 2016, Kamel Ben Naceur, Director for Sustainability, Technology and Outlooks at the International Energy Agency (IEA), came to Imperial College London and presented the main findings of the latest edition of the IEA’s flagship publication, the World Energy Outlook 2015.

1.The world’s energy scene is changing.

1 IEA2015 has seen a reduction of price for all fossil fuels and further reduction of investment in upstream oil and gas (24% reduction).
In the balance between supply and demand of oil worldwide, the demand is currently lower than the supply however they should meet again in late 2017. Oil production is expected to grow up to 14 million barrels a day by 2040, with a heavier international reliance on Iraq and the Middle East. In the US power generation sector, coal share has moved from 48.2% (2008) to 33.33% (2016) and its price is expected to remain stable up to 2020. Gas share has instead increased (from 21.4% in 2008 to 32.3% in 2016). At the same time, renewable sources have seen the highest annual addition in 2014 (about 130 GW) and their power capacity is expected to rise by 40% in the timeframe 2014-2020. One of the consequence of all these changes is that global emissions did not rise in 2014.

  2. The green transition is already happening2 IEA

Along with all the changes taking place in the energy market in the past few years, the Paris agreement signed last December represents a milestone towards the decarbonisation of the energy sector. The price of green technologies (land-based wind, distributed PV, utility-scale PV, batteries and LEDs) is decreasing and this trend will continue up to 2040, especially for efficient lighting and solar PV.

3 IEA3. The IEA’s Bridge Scenario can help reduce carbon emissions, and international cooperation is the key

The policy pillars of the IEA Bridge Scenario include increased energy efficiency, reduced least-efficient coal power, raised renewable investments, reformed fossil-fuel subsidies and reduced upstream methane emissions. Implementing these five actions internationally can help meet the Paris agreement targets.

4. The “well below 2⁰C“ target suggested during COP-21 represents a major challenge

The Paris agreement suggests an ambitious target of “well below 2⁰C”. This target is therefore more stringent tha5 IEAn what was previously suggested in the 2D scenario of IEA. However moving the climate change target from 2⁰C to 1.5⁰C represents a major challenge for the global energy system. This new more stringent target is asking us to take actions in the next 6 to 17 years in order to be met.

For more details on the latest IEA World Energy Outlook, you can take a look at the executive summary.

The slides have been kindly provided by the Grantham Institute – Imperial College London.


Natural Gas: What role can it play in the UK in future?

newseventsimagesJoin us for this seminar hosted by the Sustainable Gas Institute which will explore potential future pathways for the sourcing and use of natural gas.

Date:    18 Feb 2016
Time:    12:00 – 13:00
Venue:    Department of Chemical Engineering, Lecture Theatre 3 (RODH 333)
Event type:    Seminar
Audience:    Open to all
Ticket:    Drop in

Claire Carter (@clairecarter68) a PhD student at SPRU, University of Sussex and member of the Sussex Energy Group last year completed a research scholarship at the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology. The research output “Future of Natural Gas in the UK” POSTnote was published in November 2015. This briefing considers potential future pathways for the sourcing and use of natural gas in the UK. Claire will be visiting to present her research at the seminar. 

The POSTnote can be found online:

Lecture theatre can be found by following this link.

Follow tweets with #impsgi or @SGI_London

For more information, visit the Imperial College website.

BLOG: Building better energy systems models in the run up to COP-21

Dr Daniel Crow is a Research Associate at the Sustainable Gas Institute. Daniel’s research is focussed on the mathematical treatment of whole systems approaches to energy modelling.

The good and the great of the international Integrated Assessment Modelling (IAM) community assembled in Potsdam in November for the 8th annual meeting of the IAM consortium.  I’m used to attending conferences in slightly off-the-beaten-track places (due, perhaps, to a supposition that relative isolation leads to fewer distractions and a more focused delegation), and this one proved no except2617353101_0986a1be9e_oion.  Perched on the edge of the Spree, in deep forest, our conference hotel was accessible only by foot along an empty track lit by arching, lonely sodium lamps.  A wild boar squealed at me on the first night.  It all looked a bit DDR.

Academic matters, however, felt decidedly 21st Century.  Main themes included a review of the state-of-the-art in IAM and an evaluation of the potential contributions that Integrated Assessment Models could make in the future.  Such models typically integrate the knowledge and methods of different academic disciplines (such as Engineering, Physics and Computer Science) to study complex problems at the nexus of the social, economic, environmental and political sciences, such as Climate Change.

Einstein’s Tower

There was much talk of the effictiveness, or not, of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) as a sensible route to implement climate action.  Miles Perry (European Commission) pointed out the need for a more “cross-border” approach to emissions targets and, in the run-up to the United Nations COP-21 meeting in Paris, expressed the Commission’s desire to “deliver a robust international agreement” and set “fair and ambitious targets for all countries based on evolving global economic and national circumstances”.

Roberto Schaeffer (COPPE) questioned the “watered-down” tone of the EU’s statement, as well as the continuing focus on mitigation rather than adaptation and resilience.  Schaeffer also pointed out that IAMs typically characterise climate mitigation in terms of costs above a business-as-usual scenario, misleadingly failing to include the (potentially much greater) costs of the fall-out from Climate Change: the costs of doing nothing.  Perhaps we should all be including an explicit “climate cost” in our objective functions.

The most interesting talks for me were those on uncertainty and the use of IAM projections. James Price (UCL) described a way to explore different future energy scenarios by IAMs_draw_smaller-1024x730relaxing the requirement that the model (in this case UCL-TIAM) minimise the total cost.  Most normative models calculate the cheapest way in which a climate constraint (such as a less-than-2°C rise by the year 2100) could be achieved.  They show us “idealised” transition pathways that are rarely followed in messy reality.  Price’s talk explained how to build up a more realistic picture of future energy systems by exploring “maximally different” scenarios, each of which keeps the total cost low without formally minimising it.

Such “wiggle-room” might be a way to capture the uncertainties associated with brute optimization.  Although the model we are developing at Sustainable Gas Institute (SGI), MUSE, does not rely on minimising system costs, we might yet pursue some of these ideas as a way to improve the plausibility and robustness of MUSE outputs.

6a00e5500b4a64883301b7c7d850c5970bI was struck also by Evelina Trutnevyte’s (ETH) talk on the “impossible mission of embracing parametric and structural uncertainties”. Trutnevyte retro-modelled the UK power system transition between 1990 and 2010 using the bottom-up D-Expanse model and compared her results with what actually happened.  Total system costs were around 17% higher than those corresponding to the optimal transition pathway, leading to significantly different transition implications for technology deployment.  With a front-row perspective on all the myriad uncertainties that go into an Energy Systems Model, I found myself thinking that missing the mark by only 17% was actually rather impressive.

The meeting ended with a discussion on future perspectives and opportunities for Integrated Assement Modelling.  As the political debate involving “who?”, “what?” and “when?” type questions reaches its climax at COP-21 in Paris, it seems evident that IAMs and Energy Systems Models will play an increasingly influential role in providing a more objective rationale behind internationally agreed actions on mitigation and adaptation.

Our models are emphatically not crystal balls to gaze into the future, but faster computers, more data and better methods should give us more and more confidence in the scenarios they produce, and allow us to quantify the uncertainty inherent in those scenarios.


To find out more about the energy systems model, Daniel and the SGI team are developing, please contact us at

BLOG: Building a cleaner natural gas supply chain

GasTech-560pxX300px-Twitter-LargeThe last few days in October saw the Gastech conference and exhibition carried out at the massive Singapore Expo. It was a large affair, with all the major gas companies discussing the most pressing issues for them, particularly emerging gas markets and the prospective rise of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG). Helge Lund, the CEO of BG group, gave a keynote speech to kick off the conference. He gave his view on the challenges of incorporating gas in a lower carbon world: both a carbon price and a commitment from the industry to reduce methane and carbon dioxide emissions are vital.

It is indeed a challenge to incorporate a fossil fuel into a lower carbon world.  Natural gas is likely to play a crucial role on two fronts: reducing the dependency on the more carbon-intensive coal; and providing variable and peak electricity supply as a compliment to intermittent renewables. If we are going to carry on using gas for these services in the short and medium term, the environmental impacts must be minimised.

Our recent white paper at Sustainable Gas Institute published in September, assessed what we know about both methane and carbon dioxide emissions from the natural gas supply chain. The study found emissions to be highly variable, with some significant ‘hotspots’. Capture

In particular, very high methane emissions were found for liquids unloading processes, gas-driven pneumatic devices and compressors. For all of these sources, emissions were very variable and there are technologies and techniques that can minimise or even eliminate emissions. For example, gas-driven pneumatics could be replaced with instrument air drivers, compressors must be inspected regularly and dry-seals are much lower emitters than wet-seals for centrifugal compressors. The economic feasibility of these changes is likely to be variable but in many cases positive: i.e. a lower product loss more than pays for the increased capital or operating cost.

Another finding of the white paper on supply chain emissions was the appearance of ‘super emitters’ all across the supply chain.

Recent studies have found evidence of a small number of facilities or equipment that emit far more than the average, which significant skews the emissions distribution. These super emitters are likely to be due to the faulty or incorrect operation of equipment or ineffective inspection and maintenance procedures. Detecting the super emitters is the key challenge here, but once we do so, average emissions from the supply chain would be reduced significantly.

Paul Balcombe videoIn summary, no technological innovation is needed to reduce supply chain emissions significantly, only commitment to action from the gas industry. It is very promising to hear words of such commitment from world leading gas producers at Gastech and now is the time to act on this.

If you are interested in finding out more, please download the report, or a short summary note  or watch our short video.

To register for our monthly newsletter, email or follow us on twitter @SGI_london.

BLOG: Reducing the costs for Carbon Capture and Storage

12235378406_e25379dc47_o copyThis event blog was written by Sara Budinis, a research associate at the Sustainable Gas Institute (SGI). 

Last Thursday, I attended a thought-provoking event which covered the role for research and development (R&D) in delivering cost-competitive Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) projects in the UK in the 2020s.

This particular topic was of special interest to me as the SGI’s second White Paper (due to be published in the Spring of 2016) will review and discuss the costs of CCS when applied to power generation and industrial applications.

The workshop was arranged by KTN Knowledge Transfer Network together with the APGTF, CCSA, Coal Research Forum and UKCCSRC.

It explored the challenges associated with second and third generation CCS projects and how R&D could help to solve these challenges, reduce costs and support the development of a sustainable supply chain.

The cost of CCS is one of the main challenges to its development in the UK and worldwide. There is a variety of metrics to express CCS costs. The most common ones include the cost of carbon (£/CO2, which can be avoided, captured or abated carbon) and cost of electricity (£/MWh), which is used when you are dealing with CCS applied to power generation.

When delivering new technology, its cost decreases along a “learning curve”.  So, a First Of A Kind (FOAK) plant obviously involves a high economic risk. Exploring ways to reduce the capital and operating costs of CCS from the FOAK level to the NOAK (nth of a kind) level is of great interest for industry, government and academia.


Below are some highlights from the day:-

  • Luke Warren, from CCSA, highlighted the lack of an enabling policy framework as one of the main challenges to the development of CCS in the UK, which must move toward a low carbon economy. He commented on the need for a long term sensible energy policy. Because of the strong interest of the UK Government towards the consumers, CCS and carbon reduction in general must be cost effective and represent a good “value for money” as an investment for the future.
  • Jeremy Carey from UKCCSRC talked about the role of academics in the development of Carbon Capture and Storage and pointed at the importance of basic research at every stage. Moreover he believes that current technology rather the new technology must be involved in order to achieve concrete outcomes. This is because of the little time window between the present and 2020.
  • Andrew Green from Energy Technologies Institute: CCS is less expensive than other option for the reduction of CO2 emissions and moreover can be combined with biomass technologies in order to have negative carbon emissions. CCS must be applied to the power sector as well as to the industrial sector. He highlighted some key actions including the implementation of both Peterhead and Whiterose CCS projects, and the need for early investment in storage appraisal and further investments by 2020.

If you want to hear more updates from SGI or receive a copy of our next White Paper, sign up to our new bimonthly newsletter by emailing us at:

BLOG: Tackling methane’s contribution to climate change

A blog by Dr Paul Balcombe from the IPIECA-OGCI Workshop.

On Monday 12th October, I presented at a workshop in Paris which was focussed on understanding methane emissions from the natural gas supply chain. ItOGCI IPIECA was a conference organised by IPIECA and OGCI, who are both voluntary initiatives set up by major oil and gas producers to share knowledge on emissions reductions.

It was great to get a chance to present the work of the Sustainable Gas Institute on methane and carbon dioxide emissions from the supply chain to all these new faces: about 30 new perspectives from industry, as well as some from government, academia and NGOs.

The aim of the conference was really to pool together all of our knowledge on what we currently know about methane emissions from the natural gas industry. The idea is that we can identify the most important gaps in our knowledge that we need to fill and to discuss how we can start to do this.

Key headlines

One of the highlights of the conference was a talk by Prof Myles allenmylesAllen from the Environmental Change Institute at the University of Oxford. He delved into detail about the complicated issue of how potent methane is compared to carbon dioxide in terms of climate change. Methane is much more potent in the short term but doesn’t last as long in the atmosphere, so has a much lower lasting effect than CO2. Prof Allen says that, because of this, we need to make sure that we focus on both methane and CO2: if we don’t reduce CO2, we will never stabilise our greenhouse gas emissions; but if we don’t reduce methane, we will have a much larger global temperature when we do reach the peak.

Steve-Hamburg_D4B8294_287x377Another eye-opener was from a talk by Steve Hamburg, who heads up the work done by the Environmental Defense Fund on direct methane measurement all across the US. It was great to hear him talk so passionately about the massive task of emissions measurement and reduction. One of the take home messages Steve made was that reducing methane emissions is extremely important because this reduces the speed that we are warming the climate (whereas reducing CO2 reduces the overall temperature).

The key challenges that we summarised from the end of the first day were:

  • We need to increase methane emissions data collection. We have seen a big rise in data collection in the US which is great, but we need this to continue to other regions and more downstream emissions measurement.
  • It is clear that emissions are highly variable and it is vital that data represents the high distribution of emissions.
  • It is also vital that data is validated independently. Much work is going on by the industry to measure and in future publish emissions data, but Capturethe data must be validated so that transparency is maximised.
  • There is real potential to reduce emissions further and the technology is there. The key is to do this in as low cost as possible and to ensure that appropriate mechanisms are in place to detect super emitters quickly.

If you are interested in finding out more about the subject, read our recent paper (or a short summary) on the challenge of methane and CO2 emissions in the natural gas supply chain.