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Natural Awakenings

Global Dividend: Eliminating Gas Flares Delivers Energy Savings

May 31, 2011 08:08AM

G E Energy (ge.com/energy) has released a study estimating that 5 percent of the world’s natural gas production is wasted by burning, or “flaring”, unused gas each year—an amount equivalent to 23 percent of overall U.S. consumption. Worldwide, billions of cubic yards of natural gas are wasted annually, typically as a byproduct of oil extraction. Gas flaring annually emits 440 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2), the equivalent of 77 million automobiles, without producing useful heat or electricity.

“Power generation, gas re-injection and distributed energy solutions are available today and can eliminate the wasteful practice of burning unused gas,” says Michael Farina, a program manager at GE Energy and author of the analysis. The nearly $20 billion in wasted natural gas could be used to generate reliable, affordable electricity and yield billions of dollars per year in increased global economic output.

Farina continues: “With greater global attention and concerted effort—including partnerships, sound policy and innovative technologies—large-scale gas flaring could be largely eliminated in as little as five years.” To succeed, it will require political will and investment incentives.

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