Identifying pathways to Net Zero
A new landmark study analyzing Southern Company Gas reveals use of natural gas and the company’s infrastructure are foundational to reaching a net-zero, clean energy future with greatest consumer affordability.
The ICF analysis details pathways for our natural gas distribution companies to reach net zero direct greenhouse gas emissions, including methane emissions, while using their existing safe and reliable infrastructure. The study also analyzed four different potential pathways for reducing customer natural gas-related emissions. Two scenarios were based on increased building efficiency, high efficiency gas heating technology and the use of RNG. A third scenario focused on mandatory 100% electrification. The last scenario used a hybrid natural gas/electric approach for building heating.
The identified natural gas-focused pathways demonstrate ways our company can accomplish several objectives, with policy and regulatory support, including:
- Reach net-zero direct GHG emissions from our distribution operations in support of Southern Company’s system-wide, net-zero direct GHG emissions by 2050
- Reach net-zero direct methane emissions from our distribution operations
- Reduce indirect or customer GHG emissions
- Integrate considerations of affordability for our customers with increased building efficiency, high efficiency gas heating technology and the use of RNG
- Align with potential solutions in the American Gas Association’s February study, “Net-Zero Emissions Opportunities for Gas Utilities”
The study shows the value of complementing our distribution companies’ continuing efforts to reduce their operational GHG emissions with the following:
- Offsetting direct methane emissions with RNG projects providing local supply and economic development opportunities in each state.
- Focusing R&D on modern technologies and carbon-neutral fuels.
Comparing the costs and performance associated with each customer pathway, the analysis determined that:
- The high-efficiency natural gas technologies pathway estimated almost 25% more GHG reductions for Southern Company Gas’ residential and commercial customers at almost half the cost of the mandatory electrification pathway modeled in the study – in terms of direct and indirect equipment and energy expenses.
- The cost savings result from the fact that the natural gas-focused pathway makes use of the natural gas energy system already in place.