Duke Energy announced in October 2020 its goal of reducing methane emissions in its natural gas distribution companies to net-zero by 2030.
The company has already completed an industry-leading step by eliminating all cast iron and bare steel main piping in its systems, a major contributor to methane leakage.
It has deployed new technologies, operational efficiencies and damage prevention initiatives in its natural gas distribution businesses in five states, including Piedmont Natural Gas in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee, and the Midwest natural gas business in Ohio and Kentucky.
Pilot projects are well underway using satellites, fixed-wing aircraft, drones and real-time measurement devices to pinpoint leaks even faster, increasing the measurement and monitoring of methane emissions.
Targeting the unintended escape of methane when third parties damage pipelines, Duke Energy and Piedmont are deploying expert technicians to oversee high-risk excavations.
To focus on upstream emissions, the company is driving its natural gas procurement process for gas distribution and power generation toward suppliers with low methane emissions – striking a balance between responsible procurement and maintaining affordability for customers.
Also, the company joined ONE Future, a coalition of natural gas companies finding solutions to voluntarily reduce methane emissions across the natural gas supply chain – with a goal to lower emissions to less than 1 percent by 2025.
Getting to the finish line of net-zero methane emissions may include the use of renewable natural gas. Renewable natural gas provides a very beneficial offsetting advantage by removing methane from the agriculture and waste sectors and using it as a fuel source.