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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Why Can't Renewables and Natural Gas Work Together?

Renewable energy and natural gas
holding hands and singing Kumbaya?
Activists will never stand for that
From The Energy Collective:
Renewable energy sources and natural gas should be considered as complements and not rivals.  A hybrid gas-electric clean energy provides a workable engineering solution while 100% Renewables models based heavily on wind, solar and efficiency fall short of the meeting the functional needs of a modern technology intensive society.
Natural gas and renewables are already functional partners on the grid.  Because wind and solar are intermittent sources of electricity, some form of backup power is required to fill the down times.  By and large this backup power has been provided by natural gas because gas is the most flexible in its deployment.  Gas turbines can be turned on and off quickly to meet fluctuating power demands.  Large boiler based systems such as coal and nuclear are not so flexible in their operations, they can take hours to turn up and efficiency is lost.  Big boilers work best when they are operating consistently which makes it more challenging to integrate with the intermittent wind and solar power sources.
Secondly, natural gas is primarily methane and methane is itself renewable.  Methane can be manufactured in vast quantities and is indistinguishable from fossil sources.   Renewable methane can be made from biomass, garbage, sewage, farm waste and is given a variety of names; biomethane, renewable natural gas, substitute natural gas, biogas and others.  Many of the best resources for biomethane are waste products today and are treated as liabilities but could be converted into assets.  Biomethane can be produced in greater quantities than other biofuels such as ethanol or biodiesel.
Read the entire article here. 

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