Over the past year, the renewable energy sector has achieved significant progress in sourcing, capturing, and facilitating the adoption of sustainable carbon-neutral fuel. Utilities, producers, regulators, and commercial consumers have combined to invest billions of dollars into initiatives aimed at spurring the growth of renewable natural gas (RNG) and green hydrogen.
Here are some of the most interesting projects involving RNG, an exciting carbon-neutral fuel capable of being injected directly into the existing natural gas distribution pipeline. As RNG is ready for immediate use in all existing natural gas appliances, it stands to make an immediate impact in our question to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions.
Dairy Farmers Looking to Add Revenue Stream
Dairy farms produce an incredible amount of methane gas. In 2022, more farmers began to realize that capturing this gas from their cows did more than prevent methane from entering into the atmosphere in our fight against climate change. It’s a way to harvest and sell real, renewable fuel to utilities and their customers.
Companies like Greenlane Renewables are working hard to get dairy farms set up to tap into this nearly unlimited supply of carbon-neutral RNG.
RNG Blocks and Carbon-Neutral Fuel Offsets
A growing trend at utilities is to give customers an opportunity to add sustainable fuel to their fuel mix. Black Hills Energy, for example, allows customers to purchase $5 blocks of RNG. Just one block of RNG accounts for one-quarter of the average customer’s monthly natural gas usage. The company is hoping to leverage this program, along with others, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 90 percent below 2005 levels over the next eight years.
Piedmont Natural Gas has rolled out a very similar program, where customers buy blocks of carbon offsets that are equivalent to consuming RNG.
Utilities Seeking RNG Sources to Cut GHG Emissions
As utilities see the value in harvesting RNG within their area of operations, more sources are being discovered and utilized. One Gas, a regulated natural gas utility that operates in Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas, successfully identified 175 billion cubic feet of potential renewable gas feedstock. The company now plans to build pipeline infrastructure specifically designed to link these sources with high-volume customers looking to increase RNG consumption.
RNG Producers Hitting the Garbage
Just like dairy farms, landfills produce an enormous quantity of methane that can be captured as RNG instead of being released into the environment. RNG producers are partnering with landfill owners to divert methane waste into more fruitful ventures. Opal Energy plans to produce the equivalent of 125M+ gallons of gasoline in RNG fuel each year by 2024. Current plans see Opal expanding from 95 fuel stations currently to 256 by 2024.
A similar project is taking place in Houston, where Archaea Energy and Republic Services are generating electricity using the RNG harvested from landfills.
Big Consumers Make a Big Impact
As part of Walmart’s goal to be net-zero by 2040, the giant retailer is planning to introduce natural gas and hydrogen-powered vehicles into its fleet. As large corporations such as this sign deal to purchase large quantities of compressed natural gas (CNG) from renewable sources, the RNG market will be poised to quickly expand and branch out with infrastructure that brings renewable energy directly to our homes and vehicles.
Investment, technological innovation, and a genuine interest across all stakeholders are helping to increase carbon neutral usage. It is also helping mitigate climate change and all are working in unison to paint a bright future for RNG, green hydrogen, and other sustainable fuels.
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