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The Stanford Natural Gas Initiative held a three-day Methane Emissions Symposium of nearly 200 global leaders from industry, universities, NGOs, and government, to highlight the latest technological advances in methane management and discuss possibilities for rapid deployment to dramatically reduce emissions.

Stanford postdoc Evan D. Sherwin’s latest paper, “Electrofuel Synthesis from Variable Renewable Electricity: An Optimization-Based Techno-Economic Analysis,” combines optimization and techno-economic analysis, which estimates the cost of emerging technologies, to gain insight into the future cost of electrofuels using carbon dioxide removed from the atmosphere using direct air capture (DAC) and powered primarily by solar or wind electricity.

Adam Brandt, associate professor in Stanford University’s Department of Energy Resources Engineering, will take over the leadership of the university’s Natural Gas Initiative on April 1.

NGI Update

Happy new year to all our friends and colleagues in the NGI community. As we begin this new year under the continued strain of the pandemic and as witness to civil unrest in our nation, NGI remains dedicated to focusing on our mission of conducting fundamental research and promoting an inclusive space for scientific debate and information sharing.


This dialogue features a panel of Stanford energy experts in discussion about US energy technology and policy priorities moving into 2021.  

Dr. Naomi Boness, Managing Director of the Stanford Natural Gas Initiative. We had a fantastic conversation about a broad range of issues as well as the opportunities for natural gas to play a huge role in solving so many of the world's problems. Stanford's NGI is doing amazing work about which we can all be really excited.

The 2020 North American Gas Forum can be accessed from anywhere in the world! Don't miss this great program and #JoinTheDialogue at #NAGF2020

SAVE THE DATE! The ninth U.S. Clean Energy Education and Empowerment (C3E) Women in Clean Energy Symposium and Awards will be held virtually on December 8-9, 2020.

Blocking funding for gas energy projects in Africa may seem like sensible climate policy - but this is not the case. Such an approach could hinder countries' development and slow the transition to clean energy. Mark Thurber, Associate Director of the Program on Energy and Sustainable Development, Stanford University and Todd MossFounder and Executive Director of the Energy Growth Hub, and nonresident fellow, Center for Global Development discuss a dozen reasons why it would be a poor move.

The last few months have been tough on all of us and we hope you are navigating the new normal as well as can be expected. While the Coronavirus pandemic has completely changed the way we all do our jobs, Stanford researchers have been hard at work continuing to evolve our understanding of the use and impact of natural gas and exert our influence in the rapidly evolving energy landscape.

Energy experts Frank Wolak, Tom Kabat and Robert Sandor discuss the pros and cons of the proposed Los Altos Reach Codes/Gas Ban. Understanding the Benefits / Drawbacks of Reach Codes vs. Natural Gas.

“What’s stopping us from getting there right now? It’s really simple: we need a price on carbon.”
Naomi Boness, Managing Director, Natural Gas Initiative, Stanford University

Stanford #GlobalEnergyHeroes is a competition to recognize young people around the world who are creating sustainable energy solutions to benefit their communities.

3 prizes of $20k + paid trip to Stanford Global Energy Forum

Submit video by:
Jan. 31:


As governments in California increasingly consider limiting new residential natural gas connections, it is important to question whether banning natural gas is an “antidote to climate change.”

Californians can take great pride in our nation-leading increases in the fraction of renewables used to generate electricity. The total renewable fraction in 2018 is about 40%, including hydroelectricity. This is twice what it was a decade earlier. On a sunny summer day, California’s solar farms, rooftop installations, and wind provide roughly 50% of the electrical energy consumed at noon, but at midnight the fraction of electricity provided by renewables drops to about 20%. With the setting of the sun, solar electricity is replaced principally by natural gas fired electricity. The flexibility and fast response of natural gas power plants has enabled the rise in renewables, of which we are rightly proud, by providing the necessary backup and power to stabilize our grid.

Many Americans are ambivalent about natural gas, which produces less carbon dioxide than oil or coal but results in emission of methane, a far more potent greenhouse gas in the short term. Stanford experts weigh in on the subtleties of the issue. 

A new process shows promise in turning the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide back into usable fuels, and yields four times as much fuel as previous approaches.

Imagine grabbing carbon dioxide from car exhaust pipes and other sources and turning this main greenhouse gas into fuels like natural gas or propane: a sustainability dream come true.


The Stanford Natural Gas Initiative hosts the first big data workshop for students and industry leaders on data science techniques for better understanding and managing subsurface resources.

Energy Dialogues Interviews Naomi Boness, Managing Director, Natural Gas Initiative at Stanford University

The North American Gas Forum is just around the corner. In advance of the event, we spoke with NAGF speaker, Naomi Boness, Managing Director, Natural Gas Initiative at Stanford University about the dialogues that will take place this month in Washington D.C.

Dr. Boness is an experienced practitioner in the energy sector, with expertise in reservoir geophysics, environmental management, investment analysis, and strategic planning.

Naomi Boness, Managing Director Stanford Natural Gas Initiative, speaks at the Energy@Stanford & SLAC 2019




Promising mobile technologies find methane leaks quickly, Stanford/EDF study finds

Finding natural gas leaks more quickly and at lower cost could reduce methane emissions. Ten promising technologies mounted on drones, trucks and airplanes were tested last year. The results are in.


During the 2018-19 school year, almost 300 Stanford University faculty and staff across all seven schools engaged in energy research, producing hundreds of studies representing advances in energy science, technology, business and policy. Beyond the faculty and staff researchers, hundreds of students and postdoctoral scholars perform much of Stanford’s work in energy.

Stanford University is home to the Stanford Natural Gas Initiative, which includes partners PG&E and SoCalGas.

Stanford researchers have made a significant advance in the development of artificial catalysts for making cleaner chemicals and fuels at an industrial scale.

From production to consumption, natural gas leaks claim lives, damage the climate and waste money. Research teams at Stanford are working on better ways to find and fix gas leaks quickly and inexpensively from one end of the system to the other.

Mark Zoback Professor of Geophysics and Director of the Stanford Natural Gas Initiative, speaks at the OU Price College of Business annual Energy Symposium

Zeolites and other technologies should be evaluated and pursued for reducing methane concentrations in the atmosphere from 1,860 ppb to preindustrial levels of ~750 ppb. Such a goal of atmospheric restoration provides a positive framework for change at a time when climate action is desperately needed.

A seemingly counterintuitive approach – converting one greenhouse gas into another – holds promise for returning the atmosphere to pre-industrial concentrations of methane, a powerful driver of global warming.

The amount of heat-trapping methane in the atmosphere seemed to be leveling off when, in 2007, it began rising again quickly. Nobody yet knows why.

California will need to change all sectors of its economy extensively to reach its ambitious climate goals, but the right portfolio of technologies can help the state meet them, at least in the near term.

The Honorable Ernest Moniz and distinguished colleagues discuss a new report authored by the Energy Futures Initiative “Optionality, Flexibility, & Innovation: Pathways for a Deep Decarbonization in California" and answer questions about the technologies, policies, investments, and innovation needed for California to meet the state’s aggressive carbon reduction goals.

The Stanford Natural Gas Initiative wrapped up 2018 and welcomed in the new year with a flurry of activity. Please be sure to keep checking our website and future newsletters to stay updated on what is coming up.

Energy Dialogues is launching its first podcast with a discussion recorded at the San Francisco Energy Dialogues, presented in partnership with the Stanford Natural Gas Initiative. Speakers from Boston Consulting Group, Precourt Institute, Woods Institute and Baker Boots address: General plans for transitioning to a low-carbon economy, Supply and demand for the various energy resources, and the Role of natural gas in achieving energy goals in California. To listen to the podcast, please click here.

Watch NGI Director, Professor Mark Zoback's talk What’s New in an Old Industry: Oil & Gas in the Era of Decarbonization, presented at the Stanford Global Energy Forum, November 2018.

Concern about climate change has unintended consequences for the most impoverished countries.

Stanford researchers’ comprehensive new assessment of climate emissions from crude oil production suggests avoiding the most carbon-intensive reservoirs and better management of natural gas could dramatically slash emissions.

Mark Zoback, NGI Co-Director, discusses the impact of the natural gas revolution as electricity providers transition from coal to a renewable-energy future.

Stanford experts agree that the world needs to be less reliant on fossil fuels for energy. Getting there will remake the world’s largest economic sector – energy – into one that is more sustainable, secure and affordable for everyone.

Stanford University’s Natural Gas Initiative and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) have invited 11 organizations, covering 12 different technologies, to the controlled-testing phase of the Mobile Monitoring Challenge (MMC), a competition to advance mobile methane monitoring technologies at oil and natural gas facilities. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas – about 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide, though shorter lived.

Recent doctoral research by Lauren Culver examines decision making at the intersection of energy and foreign policy and evaluates natural gas as a way to balance global development and climate goals. Dr. Culver is currently an energy specialist at the World Bank working to help countries meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals by alleviating energy poverty while limiting climate changing emissions. 

Stanford economics Professor and NGI researcher, Larry Goulder, discusses the tradeoffs of federal climate policy options and finds ways to enhance both societal health and economic benefits.

The Stanford Natural Gas Initiative is planning a busy and informative 2018. In February we had our annual Governing Board meeting to better define our focus and direction for the year. We will maintain our current research while launching several new research directions around the role of natural gas in future energy systems, renewable natural gas, and unconventional reservoirs. We will issue a new call for research proposals in 2018 and are announcing a week of events in October 2018. Please be sure to keep checking our website and future newsletters to stay updated on what is coming up. 

Professor Mark Zoback is once again offering a free online class in Reservoir Geomechanics. This interdisciplinary course encompasses the fields of rock mechanics, structural geology, earthquake seismology, and petroleum engineering to address a wide range of geomechanical problems that arise during the exploitation of oil and gas reservoirs. To date, over 9000 people – principally college students and current industry professionals – have successfully completed the course. 

Natural gas is now the nation’s leading source of electricity. It is abundant and cheap, which has not only crippled the coal industry but has also impacted virtually every other source of power that makes up the energy grid. Some have estimated there is enough natural gas in the U.S. to meet the country’s energy needs for about 200 years. But “King Gas” has its critics — especially among environmentalists — and California’s fast-changing energy landscape offers hints that a long, smooth reign for natural gas is far from assured.

As the world continues to burn 100 million barrels of oil a day – a rate that is expected to continue for the next 50 years – Stanford Earth researchers are developing greener ways of extracting the oil and mitigating the resulting greenhouse gases.

The number of small-to-moderate sized earthquakes in large areas of the central and eastern U.S. began to increase dramatically in 2005. The occurrence of many of these earthquakes correlates with the increased use of horizontal drilling and multi-stage hydraulic fracturing by the oil and gas industry. In this talk, Dr. Zoback explains how and why these earthquakes occurred and the steps that can be taken to reduce their occurrence, and what this may mean for oil and gas production in New Zealand.

Mark C. Thurber of Stanford University on developed nations’ struggle to dump coal.

Stanford Geological Sciences Professor Jef Caers shares his YouTube Channel.

The competition will provide a level and controlled playing field for testing remote technologies to monitor methane leaks from the oil and gas industry.

The Stanford Natural Gas Initiative convened a symposium entitled Reducing Energy Poverty with Natural Gas: Changing Political, Business and Technology Paradigms. The symposium convened the university’s experts and external leaders to explore ways that natural gas and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) can most effectively be used to address energy poverty around the world. The final product from the symposium is this action plan that summarizes the main takeaways and recommendations for further efforts.

The benefits of fracking far outweigh its costs not only economically, but environmentally, a Stanford University geophysicist said Friday. After teaching geophysics at Stanford for 30 years Mark Zoback took the helm of Stanford's new Natural Gas Initiative three years ago, he said, because of gas's environmental benefits.

Symposium convenes 130 thought leaders from 12 countries to discuss solutions to energy poverty in developing economies.

Tourists flock to Point Lobos State Natural Reserve near Monterey, Calif., for its breathtaking coastal views and glimpses of the playful sea otters and other marine mammals that can be found among its waters. But the site has long attracted geologists for a very different reason.

It’s not carbon-free, but Natural Gas it has a transformative role to play in energizing developing nations.

Methane is the major component of natural gas, which recently surpassed coal as the top fuel for generating electricity in the United States, but is also a powerful greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming, and because methane is highly flammable, gas leaks pose a significant safety hazard. Stanford research focuses on evaluating leak detection technologies and using those insights to inform emissions mitigation policy. 

Professor Mark Zoback, Director of Natural Gas Initiative at Stanford University moderates a panel on Increased Opportunities for Utilization of North American Natural Gas, during the Global Energy Forum in Beaver Creek.

2016 was a great year for the Natural Gas Initiative, from new research to several  successful events, we have achieved a great deal. Below we highlight some of NGI's accomplishments during the last few months.

Check out this 2-minute video on Modeling of Gas Hydrates, created by PhD students Laura Dafov and Zachary Burton, from the Stanford Basin and Petroleum System Modeling Program. The video was submitted to the 2017 Global Energy Forum contest. The competition is open to all current Stanford undergraduate and graduate students and postdocs. To participate, individuals or teams of two students submit a short video highlighting their energy-related research.


A new study finds that just a few natural gas wells account for more than half of the total volume of leaked methane gas in the United States. Fixing leaks at those top emitters could significantly reduce leaks of methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

There are 1 billion people in the world without access to electricity, another 2 billion that have inadequate, unreliable electricity, and 3 billion without access to modern cooking energy.  Achieving access to modern energy in developing economies is required to allow countries to realize their full economic potential and meet the aspirations of their citizens. To discuss this issue, the Stanford Natural Gas Initiative will host a symposium on May 9 and 10, 2017 at Stanford on Reducing Energy Poverty with Natural Gas: New Technologies and Changing Paradigms.  See how you can get involved.

Gas and hydrocarbons represent 90% of the world’s energy. This has to change, but how will it play out? How will gas affect different sectors; how will it interact with other energy sources? Do renewables require gas? What are the drawbacks and the real measures of what’s good and what’s bad about gas? This candid conversation with leading gas experts from Stanford University spanning the value chain, and industry expert and distinguished leader Maarten Wetselaar, explores these questions and more.
A new “virtual gas field simulator” developed by Stanford scientists and supported by the Natural Gas Initiative, aims to help companies and government agencies weigh the economic costs and benefits of different methane leak detection technologies and pick the best one for a given situation
First the good news: most of the nation’s natural gas leakage can be halted by plugging up a relatively small number of “super emitters,” according to Adam Brandt, Stanford researcher who first documented the government’s underestimate of the methane problem. Now the bad news: the relatively small number of super emitters is still a vast number considering the size of the natural gas infrastructure and how little we know about it.
The quarterly NGI newsletter highlights some of the program's accomplishments during the first three months of 2016.



This call for proposals from the Stanford Natural Gas Initiative is open to Stanford faculty performing new research in any aspect of natural gas development, use, policy, markets or impacts. A letter of intent to submit is due on February 15, 2016, and full proposals are due on March 15, 2016. Expected funding for each proposed project is up to $100,000 per year.

Here's how to get activists at both ends of the spectrum past their suspicion and anger about each other

Welcome to the first issue of the NGI newsletter. We are proud to announce the latest developments for the Stanford Natural Gas Initiative since our inauguration in February 2015.

Replacing older natural gas pipelines reduces leaks and improves consumer safety.

New awards fund range of projects from improved detection of gas leaks to conversion of natural gas into liquid fuels, and climate-related policy studies.

Stanford University's Natural Gas Initiative will research many questions related to the responsible development of natural gas as a fuel supply in the United States and around the world.

Hydraulic fracturing has unleashed massive new supplies of natural gas, as well as anxiety about contaminated drinking water and earthquakes.

This call for proposals is open to Stanford faculty performing new research in Energy and the Natural Gas Resource, from the Natural Gas Initiative.  A letter of intent to submit is due on May 15, 2015, and full proposals are due on June 29, 2015.

Can the surge of U.S. natural gas be managed in a way that benefits the environment, the economy, human health and even peace? Will the United States export the technologies behind that surge or just sell the world its natural gas?

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