What is e-NG and how will it be crucial to achieving net zero?
We are currently facing one of the greatest challenges in human history: how do we keep global temperatures from rising above 1.5°C so as to avert the worst impacts of climate change and preserve a liveable planet?
The Paris Climate Agreement called for a reduction in emissions by 45% before 2030 and to reach net zero emissions by 2050. The path to net zero is by no means easy, it calls for nothing less than a complete transformation of how we produce, consume and move around the planet.
One of the worst contributors to global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions today is the energy sector (e.g. power generation, heating, transport fuels, industrial processes), which accounts for three-quarters of the total emissions.
To help achieve the climate goals set in the Paris Agreement, we need a wholesale transformation of our energy system.
If we can transform this industry, we hold the key to averting much of the most worrisome effects of climate change and achieving the crucial net zero goal.
The current energy landscape
Today, electricity provides around 20% of all global energy use – the remaining 80% of the energy we consume comes in the form of “molecules”, which are mainly fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas.
While electrification will rise, not every industry can simply be “plugged in”. Many of our most important industries (hard-to-abate sectors) – like aviation, shipping, steel, and fertilizer production – currently rely on molecules and will therefore require green molecules, not green electrons, to decarbonize.
This is where we envision electric Natural Gas, e-NG, being a key solution to help decarbonize the global energy system.
What is e-NG?
Electric Natural Gas (e-NG) is a sustainable alternative to fossil natural gas. It’s created by combining green hydrogen from renewable power with recycled CO2 from industrial emissions, CO2 from Direct Air Capture and biogenic CO2, to create “synthetic methane” or “green gas”. It’s easy to transport and store, which makes it a viable and scalable clean energy source.
e-NG is chemically identical to natural gas and blends easily into the existing fuel mix. This makes it a very simple and cost-effective solution for scaling up the green transition.
By 2030, we plan to produce
~15 TWh of e-NG annually which is equivalent to 0.4 megatons of green hydrogen.
How is e-NG made?
We make e-NG by subjecting our green hydrogen and recycled CO2 to high pressures at a temperature of around 400°C in the presence of a nickel catalyst. This causes what is known as the Sabatier reaction which produces methane (CH4) and water with an energy efficiency of up to 85% when recovering the heat that is released from the process.
This methanation process was discovered by French chemist Paul Sabatier in 1897 and although it’s been a proven method for over 100 years, it’s only recently experienced a commercial revival.
Use of the Sabatier process to methanize our green hydrogen can happen in multiple locations. However, in practice we expect that most of the processing will take place where the green hydrogen is produced as it is more sustainable and cost-effective to transport green methane over hydrogen.
An important part of our Green Cycle (https://experience.tes-h2.com/) is to capture CO2, which is a fundamental step for decarbonizing the planet.
We get CO2 via three different pathways:
- Capture from industrial point sources: This means Industrial CO2 is captured from power plants, factories or fuel-burning industries and “trapped” within a closed-loop e-NG cycle and thus prevented from being emitted into the atmosphere.
- Biogenic CO2: This is CO2 that has been previously removed from the atmosphere via photosynthesis and released by burning or rotting organic materials at the likes of landfill sites or waste management facilities. Instead of letting it go back into the atmosphere immediately, it is used as a feedstock to produce e-NG.
- Direct air capture: This is the process of using renewable power to pull carbon dioxide from the air.
Either way, we always operate on a circular system, creating an equal balance between CO2 emissions and capture.
Why is e-NG crucial to achieving net zero?
The key to realizing a carbon-neutral society by 2050 is the reduction of carbon emissions in the energy sector. What e-NG provides is a carbon-neutral solution because it captures the same amount of CO2 as its consumption emits in the atmosphere, thereby causing no increase of CO2 in the atmosphere.
e-NG is also an economical solution to energy transition for society and consumers because it can be stored, distributed and used in the existing gas pipelines and appliances without replacement or modification which will save billions that can be invested into other decarbonisation measures.
The benefits of e-NG:
1. We don’t need to wait for new technologies.
We already have everything we need for an e-NG rollout as the production of e-NG uses mature, proven technology so we don’t have to wait around for discoveries or scientific advances.
2. We can utilize current trillion-dollar liquid natural gas (LNG) infrastructures already in place.
For the existing gas infrastructure in place - pipelines, terminals, ships, storage tanks - no upgrades are required for e-NG, because the molecules are chemically identical.
3. Solves renewable intermittency challenges.
It solves many of the challenges we face with renewable energy intermittency, hydrogen storage and supply security, as e-NG can be produced, stored, banked, and traded in a consistent, predictable way.
4. It’s a cost-competitive solution that can be deployed at scale.
e-NG, is one of the most cost-effective ways of bringing green molecules to the areas where they are needed and will only get cheaper as the costs of key elements such as electrolyzers are coming down further. Due to the location flexibility, production can be moved to the greatest locations for renewable power and where huge wind and solar farms can be built easily.
With e-NG, we aim to avoid CO2 emissions of 2.5 million tons annually by 2030. By creating a molecule that can seamlessly substitute natural gas, but is made from renewable resources, we offer a viable and scalable route to the net zero targets set by the Paris Climate Agreement.