On December 17, 2020, M.J. Bradley & Associates released a new paper titled “The Role of Natural Gas Networks in a Low-Carbon Future.” This paper outlines key strategies for natural gas utilities to decarbonize their infrastructure and operations, as well as to support the transition to a decarbonized economy in their service areas – all while enabling them to continue to provide a safe, reliable, affordable, and sustainable energy supply.
This paper was prepared by MJB&A on behalf of the Downstream Natural Gas Initiative (DSI), a group of leading natural gas utilities collaborating to build a shared vision for the role of utilities and the gas distribution network in the transition to a low-carbon future. DSI is facilitated and managed by MJB&A.
The paper notes that the need to transition to a low-carbon energy system poses considerable challenges for natural gas utilities, whose regulated business models center around procuring natural gas and delivering it over the gas networks to end-users. At the same time, the paper outlines how the low-carbon energy transition presents a unique opportunity for LDCs to decarbonize their operations and provide services that align with a carbon-neutral future.
“While increased supply of renewable electricity and electrification of end uses will likely play a key role in decarbonizing the economy, gaseous forms of energy that can be stored over long periods of time, as well as the underlying natural gas infrastructure, can play a critical complementary role in delivering renewable and low-carbon fuels reliably and cost-effectively,” said Brian Jones, Senior Vice President at MJB&A.
Noting the value that gas networks can provide in a low-carbon future, the paper outlines three key strategies for natural gas utilities to decarbonize their infrastructure and operations: 1) helping customers become more energy efficient, 2) drastically reducing and eliminating methane emissions from their networks and operations, and 3) supplying customers with low-, no-, and negative-carbon sources of energy, including renewable natural gas (RNG), hydrogen, and synthetic natural gas. In reviewing these strategies, the paper also highlights case studies of leading natural gas utilities, including the efforts of DSI members.
This paper is part of MJB&A’s ongoing work with DSI on the role of natural gas and the natural gas networks in a low-carbon future. In collaboration with the Initiative, MJB&A is undertaking an assessment of the electric and natural gas system costs of achieving a carbon-neutral economy, with a focus on the role of gas networks. This includes an assessment of electric and natural gas utility costs of a greater role for energy efficiency, increased supply of renewable energy resources, and integration of the electric and gas networks over the longer term to achieve decarbonization goals.
In developing this analytical assessment, MJB&A is conducting original research and analysis, facilitating discussions among DSI members, and soliciting input from a multi-stakeholder Advisory Group. This analytical effort is ongoing and will conclude in 2021 with a comprehensive report of the findings and recommendations.
"The Role of Natural Gas Networks in a Low-Carbon Future" is available here.
More information about the Downstream Natural Gas Initiative is available here.
For questions, please contact:
Brian M. Jones
Senior Vice President