Why Biogas Is Less Green Than It Seems
The U.S. set a carbon-neutrality goal this year to work toward climate change prevention. The Biden administration distributed $2 trillion throughout the clean energy sector, searching for and developing sustainable electricity. Professionals plan on using research and technological advancements to build an eco-friendly electric grid.
The grid's energy sources must meet consumers' demands while preventing further ecological degradation. Researchers looked to biogas as a potential power source supporting the grid. Though it effectively produces significant quantities of electricity, it also has sustainability limitations.
Differing Forms of Biogas
Nearly 80% of America's power supply comes from fossil fuels. During combustion, the energy sources release greenhouse gas emissions and pollute the atmosphere. We can preserve Earth's natural temperature control system by eliminating fossil fuel uses.
A potential substitute for "dirty" fuel sources is renewable natural gas (RNG). It derives from biogenic methane captured from manure or landfills. As organic matter breaks down, it releases gaseous toxins into the environment, increasing the enhanced greenhouse effect.
Rather than allowing emissions to enter the atmosphere, scientists discovered a way of capturing and repurposing them. Methane-derived biogas is renewable by definition. As long as the sun is shining and the soil yields produce, professionals can create biogas.
Some researchers view RNG as a sustainable solution to atmospheric degradation. Rather than letting methane pollute the environment, companies can convert it into a power source that emits carbon. Methane is 80 times more potent and remains in the atmosphere longer than carbon dioxide. Biogas can reduce methane emissions and lower the effects of climate change.
Another RNG source is power-to-gas, which comes from renewable energy sources. The production process feeds wind and solar power through an electrolyzer, creating methane for biogas. Unlike carbon-derived RNG, power-to-gas places more carbon in the environment without reducing additional emissions.
Environmental Challenges With Biogas
Many individuals believe renewable is synonymous with sustainable. Nondepletable power sources increase resource conservation, but they may still degrade the environment. Producing methane for fuel and carbon emissions negatively impacts ecological preservation.
Carbon dioxide creates nearly 81% of global greenhouse gas emissions. It affects Earth's temperature less than methane, but it can create environmentally degrading impacts in large quantities. Reducing carbon emissions is essential to climate change prevention.
Climate scientists measure the environmental effects of resources, actions and systems by their carbon footprints. Reducing methane emissions is crucial to preserving the environment, and replacing it with another greenhouse gas is a nonsustainable alternative. Capturing and transporting emissions also increases ecologically degrading risks.
Methane capturing and RNG manufacturing facilities are generally in different locations. Sending greenhouse gases across the nation heightens the risk of leaks. Inefficient handling methods can increase methane emissions and climate change.
Transitioning away from fossil fuel uses toward biogas also requires mass construction projects. The building industry accounts for nearly 38% of all greenhouse gas emissions. Increasing air pollution by adopting RNG decreases its sustainability.
Biogas also promotes waste production. When companies produce renewable energy from disposed organic matter, individuals will continue creating food waste and other ecologically degrading materials. America can support the clean electric grid using emissionless energy sources instead of biogas.
Reducing energy-related emissions is crucial to climate change prevention. The U.S. can support the sustainable electric grid using clean power sources. Other renewable resources like solar, wind and hydropower can develop enough electricity to meet national demands.
Solar, wind and hydropower are emissionless energy sources, achieving optimal sustainability. They are helpful to America's carbon-neutrality goal because they reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Meeting the climate prevention goal requires 100% zero-emission energy sources, limiting general degradation.
Biogas continues emitting pollutants into the environment without leveling out climate change effects. Though it eliminates a portion of methane emissions, it is unable to achieve neutrality. Transitioning away from fossil fuels for ecological conservation requires emissionless energy sources.
Diversifying the Clean Energy Sector
Energy professionals plan on developing a clean electric grid by using various sources. Biogas effectively supports current technologies and activities, and other renewable resources can achieve similar outcomes. When engineers and scientists diversify the electric grid, they can develop sustainable, reliable and accessible energy.
Jane Marsh works as an environmental and energy writer. She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of Environment.co.