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Fuel Substitution: Why should companies consider fuel substitution (electrification)?

Fuel Substitution: Why should companies consider fuel substitution (electrification)?


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Fuel substitution involves converting all or a portion of existing energy use from one fuel type to another with the goal of reducing Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions. An example is replacing a natural gas domestic water heater with an all-electric heat pump water heater. Substituting existing fuel with electricity is called electrification.

To reduce GHG emissions, utilities and their customers should consider electrification for two main reasons:

  1. Electric generation is becoming cleaner, with clean energy sources such as solar, wind, and other non-emission sources such as hydro-electric.
  2. Containing emissions, such as carbon sequestration, is easier at the source such as natural gas power plants than at the end use such as buildings or homes.

To determine if electrification measure is reducing GHG emissions, we recommend performing the emissions calculation as follows:

Most utility commissions measure GHG emissions using CO2 emissions. Thus, for electrification measures, the life-cycle CO2 emissions /kWh should be lower than the life-cycle CO2 emissions of the existing fuel (natural gas, propane, etc.).

CO2 emissions for electricity is determined based on the local utility’s CO2 emissions threshold and the forecasted energy demand. As the clean energy mix increases in electricity generation, the CO2 emissions decrease over the years. 

CO2 emissions for natural gas are simply based on the carbon content, which is 0.00531metric-ton/ therm. If the natural gas supply includes renewable natural gas, this carbon content decreases.

CO2 emissions from other fuels can be found at the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

How do you benefit from electrification?

Benefits of electrification are from energy efficiency and reduced emissions both of which help you reach your firm’s environmental, sustainability and cost reduction goals.

How Lincus Can Help Develop Your Fuel Substitution Guideline and Evaluate Fuel Substitution Measures

Our energy solutions have helped many utilities, municipalities, and corporations develop their energy-efficiency programs, strategic energy plans, and GHG emissions verifications. Lincus will help your firm manage and implement energy efficiency programs and prioritize energy efficiency portfolio improvements. For examples of Lincus’ solutions that will benefit your company, click here to read our specific case studies.