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Title: Beyond-the-Meter: Unaccounted Sources of Methane Emissions in the Natural Gas Distribution Sector

Abstract

The United States Environmental Protection Agency maintains an inventory of greenhouse gas emissions in accordance with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Methane (CH4), a potent gas with a global warming potential 86–125× that of carbon dioxide (CO2) over a twenty-year period, is the main component of natural gas (NG). As NG becomes an increasingly larger percentage of the energy resources used in the United States, it is ever more important to evaluate the CH4 emissions inventory. However, the inventory also does not account for all possible sources of CH4 leaks, contributing to uncertainty in the national CH4 inventory. Discrepancies between top-down and bottom-up inventories of CH4 emissions imply that there are significant unaccounted-for sources of CH4 leaks, especially over cities. Diffuse CH4 plumes above cities that are not attributable to distribution pipelines or other NG infrastructure suggest many small beyond-the-meter leaks together contribute to large emissions. Here, we evaluate the distribution sector of the CH4 emissions inventory and make suggestions to improve the inventory by analyzing end-user emissions. Preliminary research into beyond-the-meter emissions suggests that while individually small, the appliances and buildings that make up the residential sector could contribute significantly to national scale emissions. Furnaces are the mostmore » leak-prone of appliances, contributing to 0.14% of total CH4 emissions from the NG sector in the United States. Combining measurements from whole house emissions and steady-state operation of appliances, we estimate that residential homes and appliances could release 9.1 Gg CH4 yearly in the United States, totaling over 2% of the CH4 released from the NG sector. Here, while factors such as appliance age and usage, climate, and residential setting could influence the emissions profile of individual appliances, these preliminary estimates justify further exploration of beyond-the-meter emissions.« less

Authors:
ORCiD logo [1];  [1]
  1. National Energy Technology Lab. (NETL), Pittsburgh, PA (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), Pittsburgh, PA, Morgantown, WV, and Albany, OR (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Fossil Energy (FE)
OSTI Identifier:
1607777
Resource Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Environmental Science and Technology
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 54; Journal Issue: 1; Journal ID: ISSN 0013-936X
Publisher:
American Chemical Society (ACS)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
03 NATURAL GAS; redox reactions; hydrocarbons; climate change; energy; chemical calculations

Citation Formats

Saint-Vincent, Patricia M. B., and Pekney, Natalie J.. Beyond-the-Meter: Unaccounted Sources of Methane Emissions in the Natural Gas Distribution Sector. United States: N. p., 2019. Web. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.9b04657.
Saint-Vincent, Patricia M. B., & Pekney, Natalie J.. Beyond-the-Meter: Unaccounted Sources of Methane Emissions in the Natural Gas Distribution Sector. United States. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.9b04657
Saint-Vincent, Patricia M. B., and Pekney, Natalie J.. Fri . "Beyond-the-Meter: Unaccounted Sources of Methane Emissions in the Natural Gas Distribution Sector". United States. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.9b04657. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1607777.
@article{osti_1607777,
title = {Beyond-the-Meter: Unaccounted Sources of Methane Emissions in the Natural Gas Distribution Sector},
author = {Saint-Vincent, Patricia M. B. and Pekney, Natalie J.},
abstractNote = {The United States Environmental Protection Agency maintains an inventory of greenhouse gas emissions in accordance with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Methane (CH4), a potent gas with a global warming potential 86–125× that of carbon dioxide (CO2) over a twenty-year period, is the main component of natural gas (NG). As NG becomes an increasingly larger percentage of the energy resources used in the United States, it is ever more important to evaluate the CH4 emissions inventory. However, the inventory also does not account for all possible sources of CH4 leaks, contributing to uncertainty in the national CH4 inventory. Discrepancies between top-down and bottom-up inventories of CH4 emissions imply that there are significant unaccounted-for sources of CH4 leaks, especially over cities. Diffuse CH4 plumes above cities that are not attributable to distribution pipelines or other NG infrastructure suggest many small beyond-the-meter leaks together contribute to large emissions. Here, we evaluate the distribution sector of the CH4 emissions inventory and make suggestions to improve the inventory by analyzing end-user emissions. Preliminary research into beyond-the-meter emissions suggests that while individually small, the appliances and buildings that make up the residential sector could contribute significantly to national scale emissions. Furnaces are the most leak-prone of appliances, contributing to 0.14% of total CH4 emissions from the NG sector in the United States. Combining measurements from whole house emissions and steady-state operation of appliances, we estimate that residential homes and appliances could release 9.1 Gg CH4 yearly in the United States, totaling over 2% of the CH4 released from the NG sector. Here, while factors such as appliance age and usage, climate, and residential setting could influence the emissions profile of individual appliances, these preliminary estimates justify further exploration of beyond-the-meter emissions.},
doi = {10.1021/acs.est.9b04657},
journal = {Environmental Science and Technology},
number = 1,
volume = 54,
place = {United States},
year = {2019},
month = {12}
}

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