Mar 23, 2023
Betting big on renewable natural gas
Landfills, dairy farms and wastewater plants all emit methane, the potent greenhouse gas produced when organic material decomposes in the absence of oxygen.
But instead of emitting that methane (often called biomethane or waste methane), it’s possible to capture and refine it, resulting in renewable natural gas, or RNG. Capturing methane that would have been emitted anyway (something that’s still up for debate) creates RNG that’s carbon neutral or carbon negative. And using that RNG to displace fossil-fuel derived natural gas can cut overall emissions.
Big players in energy are betting big on RNG. Last fall BP acquired RNG producer Archaea for $4.1 billion, Shell bought Nature Energy for $2 billion and NextEra purchased $1.1 billion in RNG assets from Energy Power Partners.
So what’s behind this recent flurry of activity? And to what extent could RNG actually offset carbon emissions?
In this episode, Shayle talks to Brandon Moffatt, cofounder of Stormfisher, an RNG and hydrogen producer.
They cover topics like:
RNG feedstocks like dairy farms, wastewater treatment plants, and landfills
How much waste methane is available for RNG
How different feedstocks determine RNG’s carbon intensity
Government subsidies like the Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) and Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs)
Environmental Research Letters: At scale, renewable natural gas systems could be climate intensive: the influence of methane feedstock and leakage rates
Bloomberg: The Gas Industry’s Survival Plan: Make Fuel From Cow Poop
Vox: The false promise of “renewable natural gas”
CBC: Renewable natural gas could help slow climate change, but by how much?
Catalyst is a co-production of Post Script Media and Canary Media.
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