GE has released a study, "Flare Gas Reduction: Recent Global Trends and Policy Considerations," which estimates that 5 percent of the world’s natural gas production is wasted by burning or “flaring” unused gas each year. This amount is equivalent to 30 percent of consumption in the European Union and 23 percent in the U.S. The study estimates that gas flaring emits 400 million metric tons of CO2 annually, the same as 77 million automobiles, without producing useful heat or electricity.
The study says that the technologies required for a solution exist today. Depending on the region, these may include power generation, gas re-injection, pipeline development and distributed energy solutions. 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.
The report provides a region-by-region analysis of gas flaring trends. The study also highlights recommendations for change such as strengthening international commitments, advancing local solutions and expanding access to financing. A PDF copy of the report is available here.
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