Simple molecules, such as hydrogen, methane and methanol, are highly important in industrial chemistry and petroleum refinery. These molecules in particular are appropriate targets for synthesis from renewable resources. With Renewable Gas, the synthesis of clean, and clean-burning alternative and advanced Renewable Fuels can displace fossil fuels.
The technologies for Renewable Gas are known and viable; the question is, who will ask for Renewable Gas ? We know who could make it, but how would its production come to be volumised ?
Elements of a production chain already have examplars, for example, the Shell Pearl GTL project, that makes liquid hydrocarbons from what is essentially methane gas. They are using Natural Gas as the feedstock, but they could just as easily use Renewable Methane.
The Pearl project is massive, and by comparison, the Standard Gas operation is small. Their work revolves around diverting end-of-use materials at waste disposal plants into what could be termed “targas”, a gas synthesised from the volatile components of the waste, via pyrolysis, heating the waste in the absence of air. As the syngas produced is not as free of tars and other residuals as syngas produced from very high temperature gasification, it cannot easily be used to feed the gas grid, so it is instead used fuel for power generation equipment, and the char that’s left over from the pyrolysis gets used in building materials. Whilst the use of waste to create energy is innovative and important, and replaces the use of fossil fuels, the gas and char would only be renewable if the input waste were originally from renewable resources.
11. The Fossil Oil and Gas Producers (Continued)
There has been a strong emphasis on Natural Gas from large fossil fuels companies such as BP. According to their annual accounts for 2018, their production of Natural Gas in 2018 was 7374 million cubic feet per day, compared to 6436 mcfd in 2017 and 5796 mcfd in 2016. They have made important new Natural Gas resources acquisitions, amongst other investments.
If they were to centre their business around Natural Gas, for example, shale gas from the United States, could they become vulnerable to an early peak of some reserves ? For example, compared to oil reserves, where pumping a field can continue for decades, even after depletion sets in, drilling for gas is not like that.
As they and other companies reorient themselves towards gas, because gas is popular, and produces less carbon dixoide emissions on combustion, so is used to replace coal in power stations, will they come to the realisation that Natural Gas resources have significant limitations ? For example, will the amount of sulfur they need to reject to process Natural Gas could rise incredible. If so, they could end up seeing the need to go for Renewable Gas.