Trash of the Past is Fueling the Future: a Chapter in the Energy Transition Story
Learn more at the Appalachian Basin Hydrogen Carbon Capture Conference
You likely don’t think twice about your trash once you take it to the curb. Hauled away to a faraway place, never to be seen or smelled again, garbage has a negative connotation that extends far beyond its literal definition.
But that faraway place is your local landfill, and that “garbage” offers a solution to today’s energy transition challenges.
“They are no longer dumps. They are modern renewable energy sources,” says Nicholas Stork, CEO of Archaea Energy, one of the companies at the forefront of converting landfill gas into pipeline-quality renewable natural gas (RNG). Although waste is not conventionally considered “renewable”, Archaea is redefining renewable.
A quick dive into the details shows that when organic waste decomposes in the absence of oxygen, it generates a gas called “biogas” that is roughly a 50/50 mixture of methane (CH4) and carbon dioxide (CO2). Once processed and purified, the resulting RNG product is indistinguishable from geologic natural gas and can be used in all of the same applications.
Capturing and utilizing gas that would have otherwise been released into the atmosphere enables greenhouse gas emission reductions of up to 90% at the landfill, according to Stork. Further displacing geologic natural gas usage downstream with RNG offers a simple path to decarbonization for any industry or entity that consumes natural gas.
Archaea’s leadership is quite familiar with landfills, having grown out of Noble Environmental, a company who owns and operates two landfills and a refuse-hauling company in western Pennsylvania. Rather than outsourcing the development of a landfill gas upgrading facility at one of their sites, the team tackled the project themselves, completing it in half the time and at half the cost of outside estimates.
Others took notice, including investors. Archaea has earned the trust and support to continue transforming the RNG industry for all stakeholders.
Building trust starts at the landfill. “With our background as landfill owners, we understand the owners’ problems, like collecting and mitigating emissions,” said Stork. Not only does Archaea address CH4 emissions, but CO2 as well. Evaluating opportunities for CO2 capture and sequestration sounds like a job for a geologist, so it’s a good thing Archaea has one on the team.
With each project, Archaea takes a holistic approach to finding the best solutions that bring the most value to its partners. The team is made up of many of the foremost experts in RNG technology and industry, with combined experience on over 60 projects.
And what about the RNG? Once injected into the natural gas pipeline, the RNG can be nominated for use anywhere along the pipeline. “We can sell our RNG anywhere, but we like to partner with entities looking to decarbonize their energy usage,” Stork said. Those entities include utilities, universities, and corporations.
Another interesting application for RNG is in the production of renewable hydrogen, an increasingly popular topic among energy professionals. The most abundant element on earth, hydrogen is considered the fuel of the future and offers a path to deep decarbonization for many industries evolving throughout the energy transition.
Now that we’ve opened the trash bin and given it a sniff, we invite you to join in a deeper conversation at the First Annual Appalachian Hydrogen Carbon Capture Conference. Produced by Shale Directories and TopLine Analytics, the one-day conference will explore many of the challenges and opportunities of the energy industry today, with a special focus on the Appalachian region and its interests.
Archaea is proud to be the presenting sponsor for the conference. “Archaea Energy’s sponsorship and Nick Stork’s featured presentation will set the tone for the conference and the industry,” commented Joe Barone, President and Founder of Shale Directories.
Learn more at the Appalachian Basin Hydrogen Carbon Capture Conference.
The conference will take place on April 8th at the Hilton Garden Inn Pittsburgh Southpointe, with options for both in-person and virtual attendance.
Conference Presents Hydrogen and Emissions Developments for ESG’s
Fossil fuel-related companies are running to embrace what not too many years ago was anathema: renewables, using hydrogen in various processes, and carbon capture.
Consider just a few examples:
- Natural gas, liquids and oil transporter/terminaling and midstreamer Energy Transfer announced in February it’s supporting construction and will buy the output from the 28 MW Maplewood 2 solar project in West Texas
- Earlier this year, another transportation giant, Williams, announced it was partnering with Greentown Labs Houston to launch Houston’s first clean energy-focused startup incubator
- Oil supermajor ExxonMobil is preparing to invest $3 billion in its so-called low-carbon solutions business line by 2025. Company CEO Darren Woods said at CERA Week by IHS Markit the challenge going forward is meeting the oil and gas demand while addressing climate change and emissions. ExxonMobil has been looking at carbon capture and storage technology for a decade, according to Woods.
If you have an interest in carbon capture and/or where hydrogen usage fits into your operation, plan on attending the First Annual Appalachian Hydrogen & Carbon Capture Conference, presented by Archaea Energy, and developed by Shale Directories and TopLine Analytics.
The one-day program will be held on April 8, at the Hilton Garden Inn Pittsburgh Southpointe. “Hydrogen generation and carbon capture emissions are critical for addressing climate change. The conference will help ESG’s better understand the opportunities,” commented Joe Barone, President and Founder, Shale Directories.
Why is the hated competitor rapidly transitioning to becoming an esteemed partner to O&G industry companies? Taking a phrase from the 1976 movie “All the President’s Men,”: Follow the money.
Industry executives are well aware the “good ol’ days” of just a few years ago, when lenders practically threw cash at companies, seeing little risk and a great deal of reward, are over.
“Today, if an oil or gas company’s leadership isn’t aware of “ESG,” that company won’t be in business much longer, stated Tom Gellrich, CEO and Founder, TopLine Analytics.
Investors more and more are examining oil & gas companies through the lens of environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) factors, as efforts intensify to promote clean energy, sustainability and the energy transition.
“Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) matters are critical to understanding the full risk profile of a company and how prepared it is to drive long-term growth, performance and shareholder value while managing or mitigating risk,” according to Amy Stutzman, Managing Director at energy consulting firm Opportune.
Morningstar reported investors, many of them younger, poured record amounts of money in 2020 into ESG funds, more than doubling the previous year’s investment.
They captured $51.1 billion of net new money from investors last year — the fifth consecutive annual record, according to Morningstar – up from $21 billion invested in ESG funds in 2019.
At the same time, ESG funds (aka, sustainable funds) accounted for about 25% of the money that flowed into all U.S. stock and bond mutual funds last year, according to Morningstar.
Funds that use ESG principles may invest in energy companies not reliant on fossil fuels, or in firms promoting racial and gender diversity.
The number of sustainable funds available to U.S. investors grew to nearly 400 last year, up 30% from 2019, and a nearly 400% increase over the last 10 years, Morningstar said.
In addition, governments have started taking further measures to combat climate change, including instituting additional financial reporting and disclosure requirements.
With laws surrounding emissions and environmental reporting become tougher, investing in ESG programs and working with legislators and environmentalists to understand the future of the legal landscape will pay dividends over time, according to Opportune.
Hydrogen Answers Mass Transit’s Emissions Issue, Is Oil and Gas Next?
The oil and gas industry, already running to embrace hydrogen as the answer to emissions problems, needs to visit Canton, Ohio, to speak with SARTA Executive Director/CEO Kirt Conrad.
The Stark (County, Ohio) Area Regional Transit Authority is an acknowledged pioneer/leader in the use of hydrogen to power public transportation buses.
Under Conrad’s stewardship, SARTA’s Hydrogen Fuel Cell (HFC)-powered bus fleet has become the third-largest in the world – second largest in the U.S. behind only California. Currently, 19 of 110 buses are hydrogen-powered.
Showing the advantages with hydrogen is something, O&G players can see close-up in Canton. “We demonstrate the technology to transit agencies around the world,” Conrad said. “Our ‘Borrow a Bus” program will lend a bus to any transit agency to operate the bus themselves. We are pushing the technology.”
Conrad will explain his employer’s use of, and all the advantages of using fuel cells in transportation, at the First Annual Appalachian Hydrogen & Carbon Capture Conference, slated for April 8, at the Hilton Garden Inn Pittsburgh Southpointe, south of Pittsburgh. The one-day program is presented by Shale Directories.
“Having a hydrogen fuel cells presentation is an important element of our Appalachian Hydrogen & Carbon Capture Conference,” stated Joe Barone, President and Founder, Shale Directories.
Fuel cells, used to generate power with the only emissions being water and heat, are nothing new. The technology was invented in 1859 (ironically, the year Col. Edwin Drake struck oil in Titusville, PA), according to Conrad.
“The technology isn’t new, we’re just putting it together in a new way,” he said.
SARTA/Conrad has jumped into HFC bus power wholeheartedly. In roughly six years, the regional transit authority has garnered 30 grants from six different federal and state sources, totaling more than $30 million.
Involved with HFC bus development from Day One, home to a hydrogen demonstration lab, and a state-of-the-art hydrogen refueling station, SARTA/Conrad has seen ongoing improvements in HFC technology, lighter, stronger buses, with said vehicles falling in price.
“The first HFC-powered bus we bought cost $2.4 million,” Conrad said. “Now, they are running about $900,000, and I just talked with a new vendor who said we could get a new bus for $600,000 – putting it on par with a diesel-powered bus.”
SARTA recently was awarded a grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to work with engine maker giant Cummins and North America’s second-largest bus maker, Gillig, on Cummins first fuel cell developed for a commercial bus application.
SARTA’s bus fleet also includes compressed natural gas (CNG)-powered and diesel-electric hybrid vehicles, in addition to traditional diesel-powered vehicles.
But in every comparison, HFC buses exhibit more power, with California hydrogen buses running strong for a dozen years/500,000 miles.
“One thing about diesel engine parts is your can buy them at AutoZone,” Conrad said. “With HFC buses, it’s hard to get parts – not for the fuel cell stack, but for other bus-related parts.”
Still, Conrad and his people continue to push to get more from hydrogen, saying the goal is 60% more power from the fuel cell stack.
“At some point, engine makers will quit building internal combustion engines,” he said.
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Hydrogen Is the Fuel of Today
Hydrogen, the perpetual emissions-neutral fuel of the future, is shifting into the fuel of today. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries is leading the industry with more than four decades of research and development of equipment to integrate the universe’s most abundant element, hydrogen, in the energy mix.
Since the 1970s, Mitsubishi has developed, built and validated turbines that will run on a wide range of hydrogen-based fuels.
“Every project we are bidding on or involved with today incorporates the use of hydrogen,” said Michael Ducker, vice president of Renewable Fuels at Mitsubishi Power. “All of our customers are asking about hydrogen.”
Ducker will be speaking on using hydrogen fuel at the First Annual Appalachian Hydrogen & Carbon Capture Conference slated for April 8 at the Hilton Garden Inn Pittsburgh Southpointe. The one-day program presented by Archaea Energy is being produced by Shale Directories and TopLine Analytics.
Every gas turbine Mitsubishi bids on can operate on natural gas and up to 30% hydrogen. With minor adjustments, the hydrogen percentage can be increased to 100% of the fuel flow, thus allowing a flexible transition to the future.
“We have four gas turbines that will run on natural gas and hydrogen now under contract in the U.S. and Canada and we are in late stages on roughly another dozen projects,” Ducker said.
Two of those hydrogen-fueled gas turbines are set for a new power plant being built for the Intermountain Power Agency, operated by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. The 840-megawatt, roughly $1 billion plant in Delta, Utah, will ship most of its generated power to the Los Angeles market.
“And right across the street from this plant with Mitsubishi hydrogen-fueled gas turbines is a hydrogen storage facility, which is the only domal salt cavern gas storage facility in the West,” Ducker added.
The Advanced Clean Energy Storage Project, owned by Mitsubishi Power and Magnum Development, will store hydrogen, which can be used to fuel power generation and other industries looking to take advantage of this carbon-free fuel.
Ducker said that while utility companies are most interested in integrating hydrogen into their power generation portfolio, Mitsubishi is talking with numerous other industries, such as the petrochemical and transportation industries, about using hydrogen to lower their carbon emissions.
Tom Gellrich, founder of energy consulting firm TopLine Analytics, said, “Mitsubishi’s approach is on target. They are leveraging and maintaining the value of their natural gas legacy investments while providing a clear path to the future. This greatly reduces costs and risks, accelerating our path to a carbon-free future.” Gellrich also believes the Appalachian Basin could be the center of a new hydrogen industry.
Joe Barone, president and founder of Shale Directories, added, “Our conference features speakers who are leading the way in hydrogen and carbon capture projects that are underway now. It is a pivot point for the industry to shift to a carbon-free future, and it is happening now.”