Renewable energy sources are those that can be easily replenished in a human timescale, such as biomass, hydropower, geothermal, wind and solar power. Renewable energy technologies generally have much less environmental and health impacts than other non-renewable energy sources and can have independently certified carbon intensity at near zero or below. This includes biomass, which stores the sun’s energy, which can then be easily and efficiently converted into useful energy sources, such as clean electricity, green gasoline and diesel, renewable natural gas and green hydrogen. Determining the best technology and its estimated carbon impact is an important aspect of ensuring the successful development of renewable energy projects.
Renewable energy is energy from sources that are naturally replenishing. They are virtually inexhaustible but are limited to an amount of energy available per unit of time. Think hydropower which is renewed by rainfall flowing into a river or reservoir, or the sun which stores energy in biomass such as trees over time.
Renewable energy will play an important role in U.S. energy security and in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Using renewable energy helps to reduce energy imports and reduce fossil fuel use, which is the largest source of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions. In the Annual Energy Outlook 2021 (eia.gov), EIA projects that U.S. renewable energy consumption will continue to increase through 2050.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, renewable energy accounted for nearly 12% of the energy consumed in the USA during 2020.
Until the mid-1800s, wood was the source of nearly all of the nation’s energy needs for heating, cooking, and lighting. From the late 1800s until today, fossil fuels—coal, petroleum, and natural gas—have been the major sources of energy. Hydropower and wood were the most used renewable energy resources until the 1990s. Since then, the amounts of U.S. energy consumption from biofuels, geothermal energy, solar energy, and wind energy have increased. Total U.S. renewable energy production and consumption reached record highs in 2020.
An energy consultant should be able to assist his/her client in all aspects of early phase project assessment, including markets, incentives, technology selection, capex/opex estimates, site selection and economic sensitivities. One of the most important aspects of renewable project development is the third-party certification of biomass and the scoring of carbon impacts by qualified experts. The consultant should also have a large rolodex of qualified personnel and contractors that can move the project through the different phases of development and achieve successful startup and operations. He/she should have a resume of successful project developments in challenging environments.
Torrefaction is a mild form of pyrolysis which converts woody biomass into a carbon-neutral form of energy that can be economically produced, transported and combusted in various energy-intensive industries, including power generation.
Torrefied black pellets have many of the same physical characteristics as coal: energy density, grindability, hydrophobicity and flame qualities. These characteristics set it apart from the typical ‘white wood pellets’ currently used in many bio-power plants.
Torrefied black pellets can be run up to 100% in coal-fired boilers without requiring additional capital expenditures for upgrading storage, feeding, grinding or burner systems in the power plant which helps align the power plant operators with their host countries’ directives to reduce carbon emissions.
The conversion of renewable energy into useful biofuels is critical to the global community right now. Each year demonstrates the danger of uncontrolled climate change with more frequent massive weather events, affecting populated areas along the coast, but also inland due to flooding and winds. The scientific community has come to consensus that action is needed now to reduce the carbon emissions that we have been emitting into the atmosphere to slow down and hopefully reverse some of the damage to the environment.
Four key reasons why biofuels are important:
Under a Stage-Gate project management plan, the assessment, development and operation of a capital project is typically broken into five “phases”. Each phase has specific work programs and objectives. The first three phases are focused on value identification and alternatives assessment. These are frequently referred collectively as “Front-End Loading” or FEL.
This diagram schematically portrays the value creation journey of a typical energy project. Most of a project’s value is created during the first two phases, through a disciplined and creative definition of the project and the assessment of project alternatives.
In order to properly manage a large and complex project, a structured approach toward project management is needed. A Stage Gate Project Management Process is recommended for this purpose. It is a process that has been accepted in the energy industry as a way to optimize shareholder value by improving the quality of project decisions and increasing the likelihood for successful projects. Professional project managers have been trained in managing the aspects of each stage of development, to align project activities and budgets with the key activities in the stage the project is in.
The abundance of natural gas around the world, especially in the USA, and the ability to safely and economically transport natural gas as LNG, makes LNG a key building block for a cleaner energy future. allows the utilization of a clean fuel that has much less carbon emissions than other fossil fuels.
Liquefied Natural Gas can be effective in working with renewable energy sources during the daily variation in demand.
Source: Center for liquefied natural gas (www.lngfacts.org)
LNG is simply natural gas that has been super-cooled to minus 260 degrees Fahrenheit when it becomes a clear liquid and has an energy density 600 times greater than pipeline natural gas. This allows LNG to be shipped very economically and safely around the world. Once LNG is regasified at the end market, it reverts to natural gas as we know it. LNG in Asia and Europe is used to replace fossil fuels, such as coal or oil, which have much higher carbon impacts.
Natural gas is an integral part in the transition to a clean energy future. Combined with enhanced methane leak detection during production and transportation, as well as use of renewable electricity during liquefaction and potentially carbon capture and sequestration, the production of LNG and use in power generation around the world can have an immediate and substantial impact on lowering global carbon emissions.