US Dominion Wages War on Methane Leaks
US gas and electric utility Dominion Energy said February 12 it has embarked on “an historic, industry-leading” program to halve its methane emissions from natural gas infrastructure from 2010 levels over the next decade.
By 2030, Dominion says, it hopes to have prevented some 430,000 metric tons of methane from entering the atmosphere – the equivalent of taking 2.3mn cars off the road for a year. Since 2010, the utility has already prevented 180,000 mt of methane emissions.
“We recognize we need to do more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to further combat climate change. We’ve made significant progress, but we’re determined to go much further,” it said.
Dominion Energy will focus on three key programs to achieve its planned reductions: reducing or eliminating venting during planned maintenance and inspections; replacing older equipment with new, low-emission equipment; and expanding leak detection and repair across its entire system, which serves 7.5mn customers in 18 states.
Most of the utility’s methane emissions occur when it purges natural gas from pipelines and compressor stations to allow for maintenance or inspection. Recently, however, the company piloted the use of vacuum and compression technology (shown in banner image above, photo courtesy Dominion Energy) that captures the methane that would have been vented, compresses it and recycles it to other parts of the distribution system. Based on the success of that pilot program, Dominion Energy has purchased 16 vacuum and compression units from TPE Midstream and will deploy them for use across its distribution and transmission system.
“Thanks to advances in technology and innovations in our operating procedures, we can capture methane on a much larger scale than we could have 10 years ago. We’ve tested and proven these technologies in some parts of our infrastructure, and now we’re dramatically expanding them across the entire system,” it said.
Dominion Energy will also replace natural gas-powered pumps at its producing wells with solar-powered electric pumps, which reduce methane emissions at source by as much as 90%, the utility said.
Finally, it will expand its leak detection and repair programs across every part of its natural gas system – from production and storage to transmission and distribution.