Renewable Natural Gas converts waste-derived landfill gas or digester gas (biogas) into a source of clean and reliable energy; RNG is nearly identical to conventional natural gas and can be used as a transportation fuel or to heat and power homes and businesses.
RNG Market Growth
Having grown up on a small dairy farm in southwest Montana, I have found that advancements in technology and markets related to agriculture are near and dear to me. Large dairy farms are often sought-after as a feedstock for generating carbon-neutral, or even carbon-negative, RNG projects. But RNG expands beyond agriculture, into resource recovery opportunities in the municipal, energy, and industrial sectors, including wastewater treatment processes, food waste, and landfills. One of the first and largest RNG projects in Michigan, and in the U.S., was commissioned in November 2017 for upgrading landfill gas to RNG at the Woodland Meadows Landfill located in Wayne County.
Our state and country, as well as the companies that we work with, work for, and support as customers, are becoming laser-focused on progressing toward low or zero carbon pertaining to the energy, industrial, and transportation markets. Demand for alternatives to traditional fossil fuels provides opportunities to divert methane from landfills, dairy farms (animal waste), wastewater treatment plants, and food operations to repurpose into a green energy source. Michigan’s MI Healthy Climate Plan emphasizes transitioning away from fossil fuels towards a carbon neutral economy. In addition to electrifying vehicles and other resources, alternative low-carbon fuels are necessary to decarbonize not only our daily commute, but the way we do business.
In recent years, the federal U.S. EPA Renewable Fuels Standard, as well as state-specific low carbon fuel standards, including California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard, have created a significant shift in the biogas market from electric generation to upgrading of biogas to RNG for pipeline injection. Unlike biogas, comprised of approximately 50-60% methane, RNG is a nearly-pure methane fuel and virtually identical to conventional natural gas; can be derived using readily available gas upgrading technology; and can be burned in place of conventional fossil fuels without modifications to infrastructure, natural gas vehicles, or other end users.
Advancing state and federal regulatory drivers monetize reductions in carbon intensity by capturing methane for use as an alternative fuel. These federal and state mandates, as well as pending legislation at the utility level, will continue to fuel the RNG and biofuel markets. RNG requires approval through Michigan permitting and regulatory programs.
Next Up: Clean Air Act Permitting for RNG
NTH has been providing professional consulting services to RNG facilities nationwide. Our experience and dedicated team bring unmatched regulatory expertise and understanding of RNG process conditions to provide a streamlined approach to facility siting and design; environmental permitting; and process safety, security, and risk management. NTH has the experience to serve as the Consultant of Choice to support civil, environmental, and geotechnical engineering services for RNG production facilities.
NTH Consultants, Ltd.