Natural Gas Threatens Biofuels?
Clean Energy Fuels, a leading natural gas provider in Seal Beach, has teamed up with Quarles Petroleum Inc. to bring customers alternative fuel, priced at $1.50 per gallon less than diesel or gasoline, at select locations.
“Many of our customers are interested in natural-gas-powered vehicles for their fleets. In response, we have partnered with Clean Energy, the nation’s leading supplier of natural gas fuel for transportation, to meet our customers’ needs for natural gas fuel,” said Ben Wafle, president of Quarles, to OC Metro.
According to Clean Energy representatives, an estimated 98 percent of natural gas comes from the US and Canada. With the capability of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by up to 30 percent in light-duty vehicles, its use would also significantly lower fuel costs for users.
“With the expanding availability of light-, medium- and heavy-duty natural gas vehicles, fleet operators across the nation are transitioning to natural gas power. Among their goals are reducing costs, adding fuel diversity to their fleets, curtailing harmful emissions and helping reduce America’s dependence on imported oil,” Greg Roche, vice president of national accounts & infrastructure for Clean Energy, added to OC Metro's news release.
In Iowa, natural gas is expected to outpace the biofuels industry, threatening a $15 billion-plus industry of ethanol and biodiesel production. Next month, Iowa's first natural gas pump will open at the Krueger's BP on Highway 141 in northwest Des Moines, expecting to sell for the equivalent of around $2 per gallon. Furthermore, a natural gas powered Noble, selling for around $16,000, joins the 2012 Honda Natural Gas Civic series and was on display at the Gene Gabus Des Moines Imports dealership last month.
SEE OTHER TOP STORIES IN THE ENERGY DIGITAL CONTENT NETWORK
Eventually, natural gas-powered car owners can expect to be able to fill their vehicles from their home gas lines, according to James Huyser, director of business development for NatGas of Ankeny, a natural gas distributor that is helping to shepherd the introduction of natural gas into the Iowa automotive market.
While the development of biofuels remains unfinished, natural gas is already taking off across the country. Looking beyond biodiesel as an alternative to high-priced diesel fuel, domestic production of natural gas is on the rise in the US for the first time in almost 40 years. Increasing at an annual rate of up to 7 percent, enormous fields have opened up in Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
Dependence on imported crude oil has dropped considerably, but biofuels advocates fear a natural gas boom threatens renewables in addition to other environmental drawbacks. Regardless, biofuels technology lags behind the great potential of the natural gas industry as it takes aim at the truck market. It's too soon to say, but for now, biofuels seem to lack the commercial technology to compete.
Major move forward for UK’s nascent marine energy sector
Although the industry is small and the technologies are limited, marine-based energy systems look to be taking off as “the world’s most powerful tidal turbine” begins grid-connected power generation at the European Marine Energy Centre.
At around 74 metres long, the turbine single-handedly holds the potential to supply the annual electricity demand to approximately 2,000 homes within the UK and offset 2,200 tonnes of CO2 per year.
Orbital Marine Power, a privately held Scottish-based company, announced the turbine is set to operate for around 15 years in the waters surrounding Orkney, Scotland, where the 2-megawatt O2 turbine weighing around 680 metric tons will be linked to a local on-land electricity network via a subsea cable.
How optimistic is the outlook for the UK’s turbine bid?
Described as a “major milestone for O2” by CEO of Orbital Marine Power Andrew Scott, the turbine will also supply additional power to generate ‘green hydrogen’ through the use of a land-based electrolyser in the hopes it will demonstrate the “decarbonisation of wider energy requirements.”
“Our vision is that this project is the trigger to the harnessing of tidal stream resources around the world to play a role in tackling climate change whilst creating a new, low-carbon industrial sector,” says Scott in a statement.
The Scottish Government has awarded £3.4 million through the Saltire Tidal Energy Challenge Fund to support the project’s construction, while public lenders also contributed to the financial requirements of the tidal turbine through the ethical investment platform Abundance Investment.
“The deployment of Orbital Marine Power’s O2, the world’s most powerful tidal turbine, is a proud moment for Scotland and a significant milestone in our journey to net zero,” says Michael Matheson, the Cabinet Secretary for Net-Zero, Energy and Transport for the Scottish Government.
“With our abundant natural resources, expertise and ambition, Scotland is ideally placed to harness the enormous global market for marine energy whilst helping deliver a net-zero economy.
“That’s why the Scottish Government has consistently supported the marine energy sector for over 10 years.”
However, Orbital Marine CEO Scott believes there’s potential to commercialise the technology being used in the project with the prospect of working towards more efficient and advanced marine energy projects in the future.
“We believe pioneering our vision in the UK can deliver on a broad spectrum of political initiatives across net-zero, levelling up and building back better at the same time as demonstrating global leadership in the area of low carbon innovation that is essential to creating a more sustainable future for the generations to come.”
The UK’s growing marine energy endeavours
This latest tidal turbine project isn’t a first for marine energy in the UK. The Port of London Authority permitted the River Thames to become a temporary home for trials into tidal energy technology and, more recently, a research project spanning the course of a year is set to focus on the potential tidal, wave, and floating wind technology holds for the future efficiency of renewable energy. The research is due to take place off of the Southwest coast of England on the Isles of Scilly