A new report emphasizes the need to include natural gas in policy and infrastructure planning discussions between industry, regulators and policy makers. The white paper, released on February 3, 2011, was sponsored by five major natural gas groups, representing all segments of the North American industry: The American Natural Gas Foundation, APGA Research Foundation; Canadian Gas Association, the INGAA Foundation Inc., and the Natural Gas Supply Association. "Natural gas must be fully integrated with electricity from multiple sources, including renewables, to ensure a smart energy future. In achieving this vision, and implementing seamless communications and data management between the gas and electric infrastructure, we will make our energy system more reliable, safer and better able to manage peak demand." INGAA Foundation President Don Santa.
Release of the report was alluded to in comments filed on November 1, 2010 by the American Gas Foundation, American Public Gas Association Research Foundation, INGAA Foundation, Inc., and the Natural Gas Supply Association in response to a Request for Information by the Department of Energy, Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability: Addressing Policy and Logistical Challenges to Smart Grid Implementation. 75 Fed. Reg. 57,006. The Request sought comments on challenges that confront smart grid implementation and recommendations on how to overcome these identified challenges.
The report presents a vision for a smart energy future by creating a smart energy infrastructure that includes natural gas. "By enhancing the energy resource mix and infrastructure that is in place, and by fully implementing existing and emerging technologies and business models, achieving the vision is possible in the 2030 timeframe." The vision, however, requires action in three identified sectors: supply, delivery and end use.
- Supply: Within the Supply sector, establish tighter coordination of natural gas supply and natural gas-fired electricity generation to complement variable renewable resources, thereby enhancing responsiveness and operation of the electric grid.
- Delivery: Within the Delivery sector, create or improve sensing, monitoring and controlling technologies to effectively enhance the safety and efficiency of the network and accommodate new end uses and emerging supply sources.
- End Use: Within the End-Use sector, implement technology to help consumers make well informed energy choices.
The report includes five key policy recommendations necessary to achieve a smart energy vision: (1) include natural gas in advanced metering infrastructure development to optimize common infrastructure, interoperability and cross-compensation among all utility infrastructures including electricity and water; (2) ensure that future federal funding programs including Smart Grid encourage and allow the use of funding for dedicated natural gas projects and combined electric/natural gas projects; (3) develop a technology roadmap for natural gas in a smart energy future, including critical input from a broad group of stakeholders and the energy technology R&D community; (4) increase governmental funding for basic as well as applied research in natural gas safety and reliability and smart energy infrastructure technology; and (5) establish a governmental public-private research, development and deployment program for natural gas similar in size to the electric Smart Grid programs that includes component and system suppliers.
The report further includes eight key regulatory recommendations: (1) expand the use of source energy standards to recognize the value of full-fuel-cycle energy efficiency and carbon emission benefits and incorporate full-fuel-cycle analysis in all conservation and energy efficiency standards, including common measures of energy and greenhouse gas emissions; (2) expand ongoing Smart Grid standards development efforts to include natural gas; (3) provide consumers information about energy usage and energy appliance selections so they can make educated decisions; (4) modify the International Green Construction Code to ensure that every new building has access to natural gas service where available; (5) modify market rules to facilitate and create procedures for direct communications between pipeline and electric grid operators to fully optimize the usage of energy; (6) promote real-time communications between the gas and electricity grids; (7) approve projects in a timely manner to ensure natural gas infrastructure can meet the needs of all current and future end-uses; and (8) make energy efficiency programs neutral with respect to energy sources, and encourage collaboration among all energy providers.
Industry can support these recommendations by creating and/or expanding real-time communications between gas and electricity grids, enhancing systems for fast-ramping generation to complement variable renewable resources and provide ancillary services; and work with regulators to facilitate developing shale gas as a long-term energy source.
The report further emphasizes the need for adequate infrastructure to meet current and future end-use needs, and to ensure that the current gas infrastructure can accommodate emerging technologies, peak demand, and new sources of supply. "Emerging technologies such as microgrids, thermal grids, hybrid appliance, and alternatively fueled vehicles will create new uses for natural gas and electricity. To respond to consumer needs, LDCs must be able to ensure the infrastructure is capable of accommodating these new end uses while continuing to ensure the integrity and safe operation of their gas systems." Enhanced communication will further improve natural gas asset utilization. "Better forecasting and monitoring of load and grid performance will enable grid operators to dispatch a more efficient mix of generation that could be optimized for societal needs while reducing cost. This will include ensuring the base load units are operating at their peak efficiency, renewable resources are fully utilized, and units designed to provide rapid ramping, ancillary services, and system support are coordinated in a manner to address system variability, with the entire operation occurring at the lowest cost."
The white paper can be located here: http://media.godashboard.com/gti/Natural_Gas_in_a_Smart_Energy_Future_01-26-2011.pdf
As a critical element in the energy infrastructure discussion, natural gas is a topic of a number of panels at the Global New Energy Summit including, among others, the Natural Gas Panel and the Cooperative Policy Making Panel. More information can be found here: