European Union Joins Methane-to-Energy Partnership

European Union Joins Methane-to-Energy Partnership

The European Union has formally joined the Methane to Markets Partnership, making it the 21st government to participate in the worldwide exchange of resources for turning methane into energy.

Started in late 2004, Methane to Markets brings together governments, businesses, non-governmental organizations and financial and technical experts to share information, experiences, ideas and available funding related to capturing methane and converting it to power.

The voluntary partnership's focus is on reducing methane emissions from animal waste, coal mines, landfills and oil and gas fields. Although methane is a less-common greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, it is more potent, trapping more heat. About 60 percent of global methane emissions are caused by human activity, according to the Partnership, with the remaining amount emitted from natural sources like wetlands and termite digestion.

The European Union's governing body, the European Commission, signed on as a partner, joining 20 national governments, including European Union members Germany, Italy, Poland and the United Kingdom. In the United States, one of the Partnership's members, California-based Pacific Gas & Electric Company recently started piping in methane from a 5,000-cow dairy farm for use as natural gas, with plans to bring in methane from additional farms.

The European Union announced its commitment at the Washington International Renewable Energy Conference, which ended yesterday.