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Study says that by developing biogas California can achieve net zero at less than 0.5% of GDP


The green transition will cost less than 0.5% of annual GDP

Biogas offers the “greatest potential for negative emissions”

50-100 new facilities will be required


California, the world’s fifth biggest economy and on the front line of climate change, can deliver carbon neutrality (net zero) by 2045 at a cost of $10bn per annum, less than 0.5% of annual GDP.

That eye-opening figure debunks the notion that transitioning to a green economy will break the bank. And the investment boosts the local economy and creates jobs alongside delivering energy and myriad climate services.

That is the conclusion of a comprehensive study entitled Getting to Neutral: Options for Negative Carbon Emissions in California. Produced by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the study maps where negative emissions approaches hold the most potential to help California achieve its ambitious climate goals.

Biogas offers the greatest potential for negative emissions

Renewable Natural Gas holds the key. The report states, “Creating renewable natural gas from waste biomass holds the greatest potential for negative emissions in the State.”

It says, “Waste biomass is widely available across California, with about 56 million bone dry tons per year available from trash, agricultural waste, sewage and manure, logging, and fire prevention activities. Today, this biomass returns its carbon to the atmosphere when it decays or burns in prescribed fires or wildfires, or is used to produce energy at a power plant that vents its carbon emissions.

“Converting this biomass into fuels with simultaneous capture of the process CO2 emissions holds the greatest potential for negative emissions in the State. A broad array of processing options is available, and includes collecting biogas from landfills, dairies, and wastewater treatment plants for upgrading to pipeline renewable natural gas; conversion of woody biomass to liquid fuels and biochar through pyrolysis; and conversion of woody biomass to gaseous fuels through gasification.”

50-100 new facilities will be required

It will require building capacity. “The lowest cost pathway to negative emissions requires building the capacity to handle California’s full amount of waste biomass, requiring the construction of a fleet of gasification, pyrolysis, and biogas upgrading/ purification plants, which we estimate to be on the order of 50 to 100 facilities, the largest of which would be located in the Central Valley. These state-of-the-art, low-emissions facilities will reduce air pollution from existing burning of biomass, and also displace polluting fuels from the road.”

The report says that to achieve carbon neutrality will require removing 125 million metric tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere a year. It says carbon neutrality can be achieved through a raft of measures, “without buying offsets from outside the State. This approach addresses local emissions without the risk of leakage or offshoring, so the overwhelming majority of the money is spent on local jobs and local industry”.

It concludes, “The importance of achieving this level of negative emissions stretches far beyond California – the Golden State can demonstrate to the world that carbon neutrality is achievable.”


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