How Companies Can Profit by Joining in Against Greenhouse Gas Emissions

smoke from the chimney on blue sky background

(DGIwire) — When it comes to energy conservation, industrial corporations often get a bad rap. The image of the money-hungry businessman building his fortune on a pile of felled lumber while pumping his toxic waste into a pristine river has been drawn by many a political cartoonist. And certainly this perception is not without basis; for example, in 2013, Dan Fagin’s book Toms River detailed the dumping of industrial pollution by chemical companies in a small New Jersey town, and won the Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction.

But on July 27, 2015, 13 of America’s largest companies set out to change that image when they committed a combined $140 billion toward efforts to reduce carbon emissions.

A further and even more significant step was taken on August 3, 2015, when President Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency announced the Clean Power Plan—a historic and important step in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the nation’s coal-burning power plants. According to the White House, the plan sets standards to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 32 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. Gina McCarthy, administrator of the EPA, said the plan would cost a total of $8.4 billion with total benefits expected to be $34 billion to $54 billion.

Today, there are approximately three million industrial facilities (spanning many industries) that collectively emit 32 percent of the total global greenhouse emissions, and all these industrial facilities combined actually purchase approximately $800 billion of energy per year from their local utilities in order to operate their facilities. Aside from the environmental issues of these significant greenhouse gases that are emitted into our atmosphere, there is the economic waste to be considered. The monetary value of that waste gas, if converted to energy, would be around $65 billion per year—enough annual power for 100-150 million homes (more homes than currently exist in the entire United States) 24 hours per day. It begs the questions: is there a way to successfully convert waste gas into energy? And if so, wouldn’t that be economically wiser than trying to destroy the waste gases?

The answers are yes, and yes. A company based in Irvine, CA, Ener-Core, Inc., has developed a technology that can enable industrial companies to convert their low-quality greenhouse gas emissions into useful energy that they can use on-site, thereby enabling them to lower their operating costs by reducing the amount of energy they need to purchase. By enabling industries to convert their waste gases into energy, the industrial facilities can earn an attractive return on investment, and gain a competitive edge by reducing their costs of operations.

Ener-Core’s Power Oxidizer, which has already been commercialized and installed successfully, and has also been issued 23 patents to date, converts waste gases such as low-BTU methane into useful heat and power. These are typically gases that are flared (burned) off by a wide range of industries, as the gases are considered useless (and hence waste) because current power technologies cannot use them as a fuel. By making these low-quality gases “useful,” Ener-Core provides a compelling value proposition, enabling the industries to actually make money from their waste gases. Ener-Core inaugurated its first commercially operational system in June 2014. Most recently, it announced the order of three more units from customers. One commercial order was for $900,000, to install one of its power-stations into an old landfill in southern California, and another purchase order was for $2.1 million from Dresser-Rand, a Siemens company, for two units of Ener-Core’s next-generation Power Oxidizers, to be integrated with Dresser-Rand’s KG2-3G gas turbine and installed at an ethanol plant.

“Reducing emissions, while at the same time developing clean energy and providing companies with the opportunity to actually reduce their operating costs and become more financially competitive, is not just a dream—we’re now making it a reality that is here today,” says Alain Castro, CEO of Ener-Core. “No longer should companies believe that compliance with EPA standards will be a losing scenario for their bottom lines. They can be green and make green at the same time.”