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Renewable methanol offers benefits

Published by , Senior Editor
Hydrocarbon Engineering,

Compared to conventional fuels, renewable methanol cuts carbon dioxide emissions by up to 95%, reduces nitrogen oxide emissions by up to 80%, and completely eliminates sulfur oxide and particulate matter emissions, according to a new ‘Renewable Methanol Report’, prepared for the Methanol Institute by ATA Insights. Renewable methanol’s power to cut emissions helps in the fight against climate change and contributes to improving local air quality by reducing emissions in road transport, marine applications, and in power generation.

One of the many advantages of renewable methanol is that it can be manufactured from a variety of widely available feedstocks, many of which are by-products of industrial activity. This includes carbon dioxide emissions from industry and power generation coupled with renewable electricity, or biomass resources such as municipal solid waste, agricultural waste and forestry residues. Given its ability to re-use such a variety of feedstocks, renewable methanol can be an integral part of the circular economy.

“Renewable methanol provides a future-proof pathway to fuel our cars, trucks, ships, homes and businesses,” said Methanol Institute CEO Gregory Dolan.

Excess renewable power can be harnessed in the renewable methanol production process. Wind and solar power provide much needed clean and affordable electricity. But these sources of electricity only produce power when the sun shines and the wind blows, which might not be when power is most needed.

For example, a wind power plant might peak at 3 am, when the wind blows strongly but there is little need for electricity. In this case, supply could outstrip demand and threaten to overload the electric grid. When this happens, the transmission system operator (TSO) tends to disconnect the renewable resource to safeguard the integrity of the grid. As a result, renewable energy is wasted. In the energy industry, this is known as curtailment. Curtailment costs can escalate.

Instead of being wastefully curtailed, this electricity could be harnessed to generate renewable methanol. As a liquid ‘electro-fuel’, methanol can in turn be used to generate clean power or heat when needed or as a renewable fuel for cars and ships.

To learn more about renewable methanol, download the full report here:

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