Reducing Pipeline Methane Emissions 83%

Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News!

Originally published on The ECOreport.

Some of Public Service Electric & Gas’ (PSE&G) natural gas pipelines were laid down a century ago. The New Jersey utility continued using cast iron until the 1950s. Now there is approximately one methane leak for each of the pipeline’s 3,900 miles. Though PSE&G intends to replace the entire cast iron and unprotected steel infrastructure, this is too costly ($1.5 million to $2.0 million per mile)to do overnight. With the help of new technology developed by Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), Google and Colorado State University, PSE&G is reducing pipeline methane emissions by 83% in the area surveyed area, while replacing about 1/3 less mileage to do so.


Reducing Pipeline Methane Emissions 83%

This breakthrough came through a specially-equipped Google Street View mapping car that measures the volume of methane escaping. This allows the utility to help prioritize areas for replacement after assessing their safety first. The EDF spent six months, collecting millions of readings from New Jersey’s streets. A number of the leaks, including all those that PSE&G deemed hazardous, have now been fixed.

Replacing 510 Miles Of Aging Pipeline

EDF and its partners have been developing their leak detection technique since 2014.

Intrigued by the methodology, PSE&G asked if EDF would like to measure the leaks in areas where their natural gas pipelines were slated for replacement.

“PSE&G deserves a lot of credit for making this a priority. It takes courage to invite an environmental group to come sniffing around for leaks on their system,” said EDF President Fred Krupp.

The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities approved a $905 million program that will fund the replacement of up to 510 miles of aging cast-iron and unprotected steel gas lines.

“We are accelerating the modernization of our gas system, replacing 170 miles of pipe each year versus an average of 54 miles in the past,”said Ralph LaRossa, president and COO of PSE&G.

Effect On The Climate

“Leaking methane — the main ingredient in natural gas — has a powerful effect on the climate, packing over 80 times the warming effect of carbon dioxide over a 20-year timeframe. The leaks also waste gas that customers are already paying for. Fixing these leaks is a huge opportunity to achieve major greenhouse gas reductions quickly and cost effectively,” said an EDF spokesperson.

Though the world will eventually transition to a low carbon economy, PSE&G expects to be using natural gas well into the future. There is no question that reducing the emissions from its pipelines by 83%, and reducing them at a faster rate, will help in the fight against rising global temperatures.

A company spokesperson added, “That said, we have also been installing more solar — from small panels on utility poles to large landfill and brownfield sites that all feed into the electric grid. And we just received approval to expand that program to do more.”

Photo Credits: Google Street View mapping car – Courtesy Environmental Defense Fund; Map from EDF website

Have a tip for CleanTechnica? Want to advertise? Want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.

CleanTechnica Holiday Wish Book

Holiday Wish Book Cover

Click to download.

Our Latest EVObsession Video

I don't like paywalls. You don't like paywalls. Who likes paywalls? Here at CleanTechnica, we implemented a limited paywall for a while, but it always felt wrong — and it was always tough to decide what we should put behind there. In theory, your most exclusive and best content goes behind a paywall. But then fewer people read it!! So, we've decided to completely nix paywalls here at CleanTechnica. But...
Like other media companies, we need reader support! If you support us, please chip in a bit monthly to help our team write, edit, and publish 15 cleantech stories a day!
Thank you!

CleanTechnica uses affiliate links. See our policy here.

Roy L Hales

is the President of Cortes Community Radio , CKTZ 89.5 FM, where he has hosted a half hour program since 2014, and editor of the Cortes Currents (formerly the ECOreport), a website dedicated to exploring how our lifestyle choices and technologies affect the West Coast of British Columbia. He is a research junkie who has written over 2,000 articles since he was first published in 1982. Roy lives on Cortes Island, BC, Canada.

Roy L Hales has 441 posts and counting. See all posts by Roy L Hales