Renewable Gas / Bio Gas

Renewable Natural Gas (RNG), also known as bio-methane or biogas, is pipeline quality gas derived from biomass that is fully interchangeable with natural gas. The future natural gas network could include renewable gas from dairy farms, waste water treatment plants, landfills, wood waste and food waste plants.

In the Northeast, there is growing interest and initiatives toward implementing RNG. Some examples include:

  • Vermont Gas in 2018 became the first utility in the nation with a retail RNG offering.
  • National Grid has been an active proponent for many years of incorporating biogas into the natural gas system.
  • In fall 2018, Con Edison announced it is planning the construction of up to three renewable gas facilities that would turn food waste, sludge, yard and other waste into natural gas. These projects would reduce the need for conventional natural gas by up to 7,100 dekatherms on a peak winter day.
  • In fall 2018 Liberty Utilities in New Hampshire announced an RNG project to capture the gas currently being produced by decomposing organic matter at the Bethlehem, NH landfill and process it, so that it will match the chemical composition of conventional natural gas. This project is expected to provide approximately 475,000 dekatherms of Renewable Natural Gas annually in the first 10 years of operation, all of which will be used to serve customers in New Hampshire. The utility notes: "The supply of RNG from the Bethlehem landfill represents approximately 6% of Liberty Utilities' total annual sales in New Hampshire. Capturing, cleaning and using this gas not only combats climate change, it also reduces emissions at the landfill."
  • In spring 2019, Summit Natural Gas of Maine announced that it is partnering with Maine's dairy industry to develop home-grown renewable natural gas through the construction of an anaerobic digester in Maine's dairy capital, Clinton. The utility plans to match 5 percent of its Maine residential gas demand for the next year by purchasing renewable gas attributes (similar to carbon credits) at no cost to ratepayers.

In September 2019, NGA and GTI released a report called: "Interconnect Guide for Renewable Natural Gas in New York State." The report was sponsored by and developed in coordination with several New York State natural gas utilities. While developed for New York State, this report provides a guideline for RNG pipeline interconnections that will be applicable and of value throughout the U.S. and Canada. The guidance document provides a framework and technical guidance by which all parties - including project developers and the local gas utility - can work together utilizing common core principles and a rigorous technical framework to facilitate maximizing the acceptance and introduction of RNG into the natural gas pipeline network. The report can be found in a link at the bottom of the page.

Source: National Grid

The U.S. Department of Energy notes that "like conventional natural gas, RNG can be used as a transportation fuel in the form of compressed natural gas (CNG) or liquefied natural gas (LNG). RNG qualifies as an advanced biofuel under the Renewable Fuel Standard."

The Gas Technology Institute (GTI) notes that "Bio-methane and liquid biofuels provide an opportunity to supply affordable, clean, domestically-sourced energy to U.S. and global energy customers. These renewable energy sources can help companies comply with renewable portfolio standard (RPS) requirements, low carbon fuel standards, and other policy-driven efforts intended to promote the use of renewable and sustainable energy resources for power generation, transportation, and other end use market applications."