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methane question

Posted by Morgan White on July 22, 2014

Dear Energy Generation SWATeam,

As the campus prepares to issue a request for pricing (RFP) for renewable energy, the question has arisen whether electricity derived from natural gas from abandoned coal mines would "count" towards our climate action goals.  My understanding is that in some states (including California) this type of energy is defined by statute as renewable, but this is not the case in Illinois -- so we would have to make our own judgment.  I also note that at least one such project has been certified by the Voluntary Carbon Standard (,

which is the same standard under which our campus carbon reductions are being certified.

The basic idea behind this energy source is that abandoned coal mines naturally leak methane into the atmosphere, and as I'm sure you know methane has a considerably larger effect on climate than does CO2.

These projects aim to capture that methane and combust it to form CO2, thus reducing the overall climate impact while also generating electricity.

I'd like to ask your SWATeam to examine this issue, and provide a recommendation to the iCAP Working Group as to whether abandoned coal mine methane capture "counts" as renewable energy in the context of our climate goals (as represented in the iCAP and envisioned revisions to the iCAP).  You may also wish to examine whether landfill gas capture "counts."

It would be most helpful if I could receive your recommendation before the end of August.