Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
An Estimate of Natural Gas Methane Emissions from California Homes.
- Author(s): Fischer, Marc L
- Chan, Wanyu R
- Delp, Woody
- Jeong, Seongeun
- Rapp, Vi
- Zhu, Zhimin
- et al.
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.8b03217
We estimate postmeter methane (CH4) emissions from California's residential natural gas (NG) system using measurements and analysis from a sample of homes and appliances. Quiescent whole-house emissions (i.e., pipe leaks and pilot lights) were measured using a mass balance method in 75 California homes, while CH4 to CO2 emission ratios were measured for steady operation of individual combustion appliances and, separately, for transient operation of three tankless water heaters. Measured quiescent whole-house emissions are typically <1 g CH4/day, though they exhibit long-tailed gamma distributions containing values >10 g CH4/day. Most operating appliances yield undetectable CH4 to CO2 enhancements in steady operation (<0.01% of gas consumed), though storage water heaters and stovetops exhibit long-tailed gamma distributions containing high values (∼1-3% of gas consumed), and transients are observed for the tankless heaters. Extrapolating results to the state-level using Bayesian Markov chain Monte Carlo sampling combined with California housing statistics and gas use information suggests quiescent house leakage of 23.4 (13.7-45.6, at 95% confidence) Gg CH4, with pilot lights contributing ∼30%. Emissions from steady operation of appliances and their pilots are 13.3 (6.6-37.1) Gg CH4/yr, an order of magnitude larger than current inventory estimates, with transients likely increasing appliance emissions further. Together, emissions from residential NG are 35.7 (21.7-64.0) Gg CH4/yr, equivalent to ∼15% of California's NG CH4 emissions, suggesting leak repair, improvement of combustion appliances, and adoption of nonfossil energy heating sources can help California meet its 2050 climate goals.