Study Finds Low-Carbon Gas Fuels NEW Option for Meeting California's Greenhouse Gas Reduction Goals

Comparison of Electrification, Mixed-energy Scenarios

LOS ANGELES, Jan. 27, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- As California policymakers move toward environmentally focused energy goals, including increased reliance on renewable sources, a new study by Energy Environmental Economics (E3) consulting suggests that low-carbon gas fuels are a viable option for meeting California's greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goals and can simultaneously help achieve pollution emission reduction targets.

Low-carbon gas fuels or "decarbonized gas" refers to gaseous fuels with a net-zero, or very low, greenhouse gas impact on the climate. These include fuels such as biogas, hydrogen and renewable synthetic gases produced with low lifecycle GHG emission approaches.

"California needs multiple energy options that deliver choice to our customers and put our state in the best position to successfully achieve its goals. Natural gas is a clean, abundant and affordable energy source that can help California address climate change and reduce smog, while supporting a strong economy," said Rodger Schwecke, vice president of customer solutions for SoCalGas.

The report examines the potential role of decarbonized gas fuels, and the existing gas pipeline infrastructure, to help meet California's long-term climate goals. It compares two "technology pathway" scenarios for meeting the state's goal of reducing GHG emissions: an electrification scenario, where all energy end uses are electrified and powered by renewable electricity; and a multi-energy framework, where both electricity and decarbonized gas fuels play significant roles in California's energy supply.

"The study concludes that a technology pathway for decarbonized gas could help meet the state's GHG reduction goals and may be easier and could be less costly to implement in some sectors than a high electrification strategy. It was prepared by E3, a leading consulting firm which has expertise in the electricity and natural gas industries and conducts emissions studies for several state agencies.

"The findings point to the need for a significant program of research and development to make decarbonized gas a reality and allow consumers, businesses and policymakers greater flexibility and choice," said Schwecke.

Four key findings suggest that decarbonized gases distributed through the state's existing pipeline network are complementary with a low-carbon electrification strategy by addressing critical challenges to California's transition to a decarbonized energy supply.

  • First, decarbonized pipeline gas can help to reduce emissions in sectors that are for technical or customer-acceptance reasons difficult to electrify: 1) industrial end uses, such as process heating, (2) heavy duty vehicles, and (3) residential and commercial uses, such as cooking, and existing space and water heating.
  • Second, the production of decarbonized gas from electricity could play an important role in integrating variable renewable generation by producing gas when renewables are generating power, and then storing the gas in the pipeline distribution network for when it is needed.
  • Third, a transition to decarbonized pipeline gas would enable continued use of the state's existing gas pipeline distribution network, eliminating the need for new energy delivery infrastructure — dedicated hydrogen pipelines or additional electric transmission and distribution capacity — to meet the 2050 GHG target.
  • Fourth, decarbonized gas technologies would help diversify the technology risk associated with heavy reliance on a limited number of decarbonized energy carriers, and allow consumers, businesses and policymakers greater flexibility and choice.

The entire report is available from SoCalGas.

About Southern California Gas Co.

Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) has been delivering clean, safe and reliable natural gas to its customers for more than 140 years. It is the nation's largest natural gas distribution utility, providing service to 21 million consumers connected through more than 5.8 million meters in more than 500 communities. The company's service territory encompasses approximately 20,000 square miles throughout Central and Southern California, from Visalia to the Mexican border. Southern California Gas Co. is a regulated subsidiary of Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE).

Southern California Gas Co. is the nation's largest natural gas distribution utility, providing safe and reliable energy to 20.9 million consumers through nearly 5.8 million meters in more than 500 communities. The company's service territory encompasses approximately 20,000 square miles throughout Central and Southern California, from Visalia to the Mexican border. Southern California Gas Co. is a regulated subsidiary of Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE).

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SOURCE Southern California Gas Company

Javier Mendoza | SoCalGas 24-Hour Media Hotline: 877.643.2331 | socalgas.com/news-room | @SoCalGasNews

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Southern California Gas Company , Sempra Energy