Business Opportunities for Uniting Natural Gas and Renewables Abound at System and Sector Levels
February 2014 — To support the U.S. need for cleaner energy sources now and in the long term, a new study by the Joint Institute for Strategic Energy Analysis (JISEA) identifies compelling business models that build from the synergies of two abundant, domestic forms of energy: natural gas and renewable energy.
"Natural gas and renewable energy each contribute to economic growth, energy independence, and carbon mitigation, sometimes independently and sometimes collectively," said Douglas Arent, JISEA Executive Director. "With this paper and a larger line of study, JISEA is examining ways these two domestic forms of energy can work in greater concert."
The paper, Exploring the Potential Business Case for Synergies between Natural Gas and Renewable Energy, identifies revenue opportunities that emerge from systems-level perspectives in "bulk energy" (large-scale electricity and natural gas production, transmission, and trade) and four "distribution edge" subsectors: industrial, residential, commercial, and transportation end uses. Example areas of potential business collaboration include transmission corridors that serve both technologies, and flexible fuel turbines that allow for fuel diversification, added energy security, and reduced price risk.
"To advance a cleaner, decarbonized energy system, we have to look at energy and economic systems in new ways. With this study, JISEA provides a valuable and unique perspective on collaboration rather than competition between natural gas and renewables, and practical insights that can help spur the clean energy economy," said former Colorado Governor Bill Ritter, director of the Center for the New Energy Economy (CNEE) at Colorado State University. CNEE and JISEA co-hosted a workshop to gather expert input on the business models for gas and renewables.
"Some of the synergies at the commercial level can be illustrated through an example of a big box store that generates, consumes, stores, and sells energy and provides energy services," said Jaquelin Cochran, lead author of the study. "In this example, we identified numerous potential revenue opportunities for the utilities, energy providers, car manufacturers, municipal waste firms, and many other businesses and service providers. This analysis could potentially inspire entrepreneurial action to transform our energy system."
JISEA conducts leading-edge interdisciplinary research and provides objective and credible data, tools, and analysis to guide global energy investment and policy decisions. JISEA is operated by the Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC, on behalf of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the University of Colorado-Boulder, the Colorado School of Mines, the Colorado State University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Stanford University.