The last two weeks have seen one of the highest profile United Nations Conference of the Parties (UN COP) events to date. The UN COP gatherings are the global events where nations come together to agree contributions towards the fights against climate change.
The goals of the COP26 are to secure global agreements to achieve net zero carbon emissions by mid-century and keep 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming within reach, to adapt to protect communities and natural habitats, mobilise finance and work together globally to deliver.
Clarke Energy was invited by the Association for Decentralised Energy (ADE) and the World Biogas Association (WBA) to participate in their delegations at the COP26
Globally Clarke Energy have supplied over 7GW of gas-engine fuelled power generation capacity. These are typically deployed in a combined heat and power (CHP) configuration – generating power at efficiency levels up to 90%. 1.4GW of this power is renewable and largely deployed on biogas and landfill gas applications.
Adam Wray-Summerson, Product Development Manager at Clarke Energy joined the ADE’s COP26 delegation which visited several operational sites across Glasgow including the Commonwealth Games district energy scheme and the Glasgow Caledonian University CHP plant. Whilst currently natural gas fuelled a recent independent study commissioned by the ADE has demonstrated that “unabated natural gas” fuelled CHP plants (i.e. those without carbon capture) will deliver carbon reduction until around 2030 compared to UK grid supplied electricity. In addition, these facilities are ready to accept zero carbon or renewable fuels such as biomethane (renewable natural gas) or hydrogen.
The hydrogen economy had a high-profile position at the conference particularly with respect to the decarbonisation of global gas supplies that currently rely heavily on fossil natural gas. Hydrogen as a fuel source is being supported by legislation or initiatives / early demonstrators in the UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands and the United States.
Clarke Energy has already developed successful experience of using hydrogen mixed with carbon monoxide as a waste gas fuel at furnace sites in South Africa. Now the focus is on conversion of CHP plants and flexible gas engine peaking stations to operate on hydrogen as a gas.
With the growth in intermittent wind and solar power, alongside the closure of large base load power stations such as coal and nuclear, global power networks are becoming more and more unstable. There is a technical need to supply flexible power installations that either generate dispatchable energy or alternatively can time-shift power with technologies such as battery energy storage systems or renewable fuels such as biomethane or hydrogen. This is an area the Kohler Company are developing a range of new solutions including the aforementioned gas peaking stations – large grid connected power plants that can engage at short notice, to large battery energy storage plants or alternatively smaller localised microgrid technologies to support commercial buildings, industry and campuses.
Flexible generation was therefore also at focus at the COP26 as it will be a key enabler to the widespread deployment of renewable energy.
Methane emission avoidance
On day 2 of the conference a high-profile pledge was made from 100 nations to slash global methane emissions. On the 11th of November the US and China committed to boost climate cooperation over the next decade including planning to slash methane emissions.
Methane is a short-lived atmospheric pollutant that plays a significant role in climate change. It was in sharp focus at the COP26 as one of the most practical short-term gases to make a tangible reduction in the track to a 1.5C global. Methane’s presence in the atmosphere is just 2 parts per million (PPM) compared to 412 PPM for carbon dioxide (CO2). Its life in the atmosphere is hardly 12 years compared to more than 200 years of CO2. But methane traps heat 84 times that of CO2, thus making it a ‘super-warmer of the atmosphere’.
Methane can be emitted from a range of sources linked to human activity including from decomposing waste at landfill sites, from wastewater and from agricultural wastes. When methane is emitted in this way it is typically called ‘biogas’ or ‘landfill gas’. Using biogas for power generation is something Clarke Energy has excelled at over the last 30 years delivering more than 1.4GW of renewable electricity from biogas globally, and more recently biomethane.
Alex Marshall, Group Business Development and Marketing Manager joined the World Biogas Association’s delegation and secured coveted access to the “Blue Zone” of the conference and was invited to speak at the Kenya Climate Change Working Group Association on the 11th of November on the subject of avoiding emissions from short-lived atmospheric pollutants such as methane, black carbon, ozone and hydrofluorocarbons. Alex provided practical examples of how Clarke Energy, A Kohler Company are delivering methane reducing projects globally in countries such as Kenya, India, the United States, France, Romania and Greece.
The Kohler Company has a fantastic opportunity to adapt to meet the challenges of climate change from a power generation perspective. By continuing to boldly innovate in products and applications and acquire synergistic businesses Kohler Company is well positioned to support the transition to net zero. Right now we are supporting global power generation networks, helping deliver resilient supplies of power, generating renewable energy and to support the push to reduce global methane emissions.