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Renewable Natural Gas Is Gaining by ClimateYou editor Abby Luby

On National Bioenergy Energy Day last week, we learned of the non-profit Energy Vision who announced awards to three innovative companies advancing renewable natural gas (RNG) made from organic waste: AmerescoQuantum Biopower, and CCI Bioenergy.

Here at ClimateYou we are always interested in organic materials that generate energy, especially since we know that uncollected organic wastes emit 25 times more greenhouse gases than the entire fossil natural gas industry. Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) is made from biogas emitted as food waste, wastewater, agricultural manures and yard clippings decompose, which is captured and refined into an ultra-low-emissions energy source.  RNG emits a small fraction of GHG of diesel, gasoline or geologic natural gas fuels. In fact, as a transportation fuel made in anaerobic digesters from food or dairy farm waste, RNG is net carbon-negative over its lifecycle.

In Southington, Connecticut, Quantum Biopower built the New York area’s first food waste-to-energy facility.  Quantum’s facility consumes 40,000 of the 500,000 tons of food waste Connecticut generates annually, converting it via anaerobic digestion to 420,000 cubic feet of biogas, avoiding 5,000 tons of CO2 emissions annually.

RNG production capacity is ramping up elsewhere in the New York tri-State area, including at Brooklyn’s Newtown Creek and Long Island’s American Organic Energy.  Regionally produced RNG  could be used to fuel NYC municipal vehiclesimproving New York’s air quality while helping meet its GHG reduction goals.

In Arizona, Ameresco worked with Phoenix, Tempe, Mesa, Scottsdale and Glendale to develop/design/build/own/operate a wastewater treatment biogas facility to serve the region:  Phoenix’s 91st Ave Wastewater Treatment Plant.  It will be the largest wastewater treatment biogas-to-RNG facility in the U.S., with enough RNG capacity to displace more than four million gallons of diesel annually.

In Ontario, CCI BioEnergy is piloting compact, innovative bioQUBE microdigesters which convert organic wastes into RNG and bio-fertilizer. Fitting inside a shipping container, they allow on-site processing of organic waste where it is produced, extending the availability of anaerobic digestion to individual sources, including Ontario’s Algoma Orchards, the largest Canadian apple grower and processor east of British Columbia.

“Capturing and using biogas from organic waste is essential for addressing climate change,” said Joanna Underwood, chair of Energy Vision. “Since we began focusing attention on this, more than 40 plants have been built or converted to produce RNG, and more than 20,000 heavy-duty trucks are using it.”

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