Bruce Logan to deliver renewable energy talk to Danish parliament

November 21, 2022

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared on Penn State News. Bruce Logan, Evan Pugh University Professor, Kappe Professor of Environmental Engineering and director of the Institutes of Energy and the Environment, was featured.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Bruce Logan, director of the Institutes of Energy and the Environment, Evan Pugh University Professor and Kappe Professor of Environmental Engineering in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Penn State, has been invited to speak to the Danish parliament about energy as Europe wrestles with energy costs and insecurity. In his presentation to the members of parliament, Logan will speak about his research focused on turning renewable electricity into renewable methane.

Renewable methane can be generated through multiple methods. Common ways include anaerobic digestion of waste and the collection of methane emitted from landfills.

As a part of his research, Logan has been investigating another process to produce renewable methane, by using microorganisms that can create it from electricity. In a 2019 Nature Review Microbiology paper titled “Electroactive microorganisms in bioelectrochemical systems,” Logan and his team wrote that their work could “provide new opportunities for electrochemical devices, such as microbial fuel cells that generate electricity or microbial electrolysis cells that produce hydrogen or methane.”

“Creating renewable methane could be a solution for countries like Denmark and others in Europe where natural gas prices are much higher than the rest of the world,” Logan said.

Prices of natural gas in European countries such as Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands are some of the highest in the world. Customers in these countries are paying four to 10 times as much as the average U.S. customer.

Denmark is also being impacted by Russia's decision not to reopen Nord Stream 1, a major natural gas pipeline that runs from Russia to Germany. The Danish government estimates that Russia supplies approximately 15% of the country's gas. The Danish Energy Agency is encouraging Danes to save energy by turning down the heat, limiting the use of hot water and switching off unnecessary lighting and appliances.

In light of these challenges, the Danish parliament has invited Logan to present his research.

“When it comes to natural gas cost and availability, Europe is facing difficult times,” Logan said. “They are searching for promising research solutions that can be scaled up to meet their needs.”

Although the Danes have pledged to stop fossil fuel production, they have been discussing ways to increase their natural gas output. Additionally, they have bolstered their efforts around renewable energy sources, such as bioenergy, wind, solar and geothermal energy.

Denmark generates about 50% of their electricity from renewable sources. According to Logan, during peak times, the country generates more electricity than its power grid can handle. This is where Logan sees potential for Denmark.

“If Denmark can continue to increase its growth rate of renewable electricity, they have the opportunity to begin to use electricity to generate renewable methane through an extremely clean process using captured carbon dioxide,” Logan said. “This would help to reduce the country’s dependence on energy imports and use captured CO2 in the country as a resource.”

Logan will also be speaking at the University of Copenhagen where he will share research from his recent book, “Daily Energy Use and Carbon Emissions: Fundamentals and Applications for Students and Professionals,” which focuses on energy education and literacy.

“The talk at the University of Copenhagen will focus on how to help people to evaluate their energy use, estimate the resulting carbon emissions and use that information to better understand how those activities impact climate change,” Logan said. “If we are going to need everybody’s help to stop climate change, then there is a crucial need to make energy usage universally understandable.”

According to Logan, the language and processes that are used when communicating about energy are incompatible and not user-friendly.

“One only has to look at an invoice for natural gas to understand the difficulty,” Logan said. “In the U.S., natural gas is often measured in ‘therms,’ which very few people understand from a usage standpoint, let alone a climate-impact standpoint. It would be much easier for people to understand energy use if natural gas was listed in energy units the same way as electricity, in kilowatt hours.” 


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