FortisBC is changing the way we live and work. As a natural gas and electricity distribution company in British Columbia, Canada, FortisBC is taking significant steps toward achieving a lower-carbon future. The company is promoting the adoption of Renewable Natural Gas (RNG), a sustainable, low-carbon energy created by capturing and purifying methane produced from organic waste.
With over 11,000 homes and businesses already using RNG in BC, FortisBC is working to meet the growing demand for this alternative fuel. RNG can mix seamlessly into the existing natural gas system, making it a cost-effective and convenient way for customers to reduce their carbon footprint.
In this article, we will explore how FortisBC’s RNG solutions are working to support a lower-carbon future in British Columbia. We will also discuss how the company is leading the charge in transitioning to a lower carbon future in the commercial transportation sector by promoting the adoption of natural gas vehicles powered by RNG in the province of BC.
Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) is a sustainable energy that is derived from organic waste. RNG is created by breaking down organic materials from various sources such as agricultural farm waste, landfill waste, and wastewater.
FortisBC is a company that works with local farms, landfills, green energy companies, and municipalities to produce RNG. The RNG produced by FortisBC is then blended into the existing natural gas infrastructure, displacing equivalent volumes of conventional natural gas and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Since RNG can mix seamlessly into the existing natural gas system, it does not require customers to retrofit their existing natural gas appliances or equipment. With over 50,000 kilometers of natural gas lines already in place, FortisBC can deliver RNG throughout BC.
Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) is quickly becoming an important player in the push to achieve a lower-carbon future in BC. FortisBC was the first utility in North America to offer RNG to customers. As a major energy supplier in the province, FortisBC is leading the way in RNG adoption and is working to achieve a target of having 75% of the natural gas in their system be either renewable or low-carbon by 2050.
With over 11,000 homes and businesses already using RNG in BC, FortisBC is working to meet the growing demand for this low-carbon energy. Since 2020, the company has signed more than 25 new supply agreements that were approved by its regulator, the British Columbia Utilities Commission.
FortisBC currently receives RNG from 12 RNG suppliers. As of February 2023, its regulator, the British Columbia Utilities Commission, has approved 21 RNG projects. Once these projects are all operational and producing RNG at maximum capacity, FortisBC could be delivering around 24 million gigajoules of RNG annually, enough to meet the natural gas needs of over 265,000 homes in BC.
Through the end of 2022, FortisBC has drastically increased its contracted annual RNG supply. At maximum contracted volume, the company’s 12 suppliers could deliver almost 12 million gigajoules of RNG. This represents just over 5% of the total natural gas in their system, and is enough energy to meet the natural gas needs of over 130,000 homes in BC, assuming an average annual consumption of 90 gigajoules per year. FortisBC projects that by 2025, almost 18 petajoules of RNG will be flowing through their system, which equates to roughly 8% of their natural gas supply.
Under British Colombia’s CleanBC plan, natural gas utilities are expected to cut their overall end-user emissions by 47 percent by 2030. Increasing volumes of renewable and low-carbon gases will be instrumental in achieving that.
The growth of RNG in BC is a significant step towards achieving the province’s climate action goals. With FortisBC leading the way in RNG adoption and supply, BC residents and businesses have a viable option to reduce their carbon footprint while continuing to use existing natural gas equipment.
1. BC landfills
Two of the earliest RNG suppliers for FortisBC are Kelowna’s Glenmore Landfill and the Salmon Arm Landfill. RNG production facilities are under construction at the City of Vancouver’s landfill in Delta, BC and the Capital Regional District is working with FortisBC on a supply contract for Victoria’s Hartland Landfill.
The Lulu Island Renewable Gas Facility in Richmond, BC represents the first wastewater RNG plant for FortisBC and the second of its kind in Canada. Owned by Metro Vancouver, it’s significant because it creates a model for more wastewater plants in the future.
3. Wood waste
Another leap forward for RNG is the planned construction of the first wood waste to RNG project in North America. Kelowna-based company REN Energy is building a facility in Fruitvale, BC. It will use waste items like sawdust, wood chips, and hog fuel to produce RNG for FortisBC. This innovative project is preparing to begin construction.
4. Residential and municipal organic waste
The City of Surrey created a closed-loop organics processing operation: they collect and process curbside organic waste from Surrey residents and businesses to produce RNG. This gas is used to power Surrey’s waste collection trucks as well as the city’s growing fleet of natural gas-fuelled vehicles. The Surrey Biofuel Facility is the largest of its kind in North America and it processes organic waste from more than 150,000 Surrey households, plus local industrial, commercial, and institutional operations, and other municipalities in the region.
5. Farm waste
Fraser Valley Biogas in Abbotsford, BC, and Seabreeze Dairy Farm in Delta, BC, are two of FortisBC’s first RNG suppliers. These farms use their own agricultural waste, along with other local organic waste to create RNG. As a byproduct of the RNG process, they’re also able to create a nutrient-rich digestate that becomes fertilizer for local crops, creating a sustainable loop of food, waste, and energy.
FortisBC is committed to transitioning to a lower carbon future in the commercial transportation sector, which is responsible for around 41 percent of provincial greenhouse gas emissions, making it the largest contributor to emissions in the province.
To help reduce these emissions, FortisBC is promoting the adoption of natural gas vehicles, which offer a readily available way to achieve meaningful emissions reductions in commercial transportation without sacrificing operational efficiencies.
One of the key benefits of natural gas vehicles is that they can be powered by Renewable Natural Gas (RNG), which boasts a similar lifecycle carbon intensity to battery electric vehicles.
RNG is one of the lowest carbon-intensity transport fuels available today and can be stored as compressed natural gas (CNG) or liquified natural gas (LNG) for use in transportation.
By switching to RNG, commercial transportation operators can use the same natural gas engine without any additional capital investment once they adopt CNG. RNG can be used seamlessly with natural gas engines, reducing emissions by upwards of 85 percent while displacing diesel.
Another benefit of RNG is that it is more affordable than diesel. At the pump, the cost of CNG is 45 percent less than diesel. When RNG is used and carbon credits are sold and factored into the cost of fuel, the fuel savings are even greater.
FortisBC works with large commercial fleet customers, governments, and municipalities to promote natural gas as a lower-carbon fuel that can meet the heavy-duty needs of commercial transportation operations.
As of February 2022, FortisBC had supported over 1,000 vehicles with natural gas fuelling stations, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by up to 30 percent and fuel costs by up to 45 percent compared to gasoline or diesel. These 1,000 vehicles reduced greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 33,500 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, the equivalent of removing just over 10,300 gasoline-fuelled passenger vehicles from BC roads that year. Using RNG allows customers can achieve even greater emissions reductions.
TransLink, the first public transportation authority in Canada to fuel their fleet with Renewable Natural Gas (RNG), is leading the way for transit authorities and fleet operators across the province in making the switch to low-carbon fuels. RNG is a viable option in transit decarbonizing efforts as it dramatically reduces greenhouse gas emissions while maintaining operational costs compared with diesel and CNG.
According to a recent study by the Canadian Urban Transit Research and Innovation Consortium (CUTRIC), buses powered with RNG are cleaner and cheaper. TransLink projects significant savings for lifecycle costs and greenhouse gas emissions by using RNG.
TransLink has signed an RNG contract to help fuel a total of 299 CNG buses. The total volume of the contract would allow all of TransLink’s CNG-powered buses to be powered by 100 percent RNG.
RNG is a certified Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) transport fuel and boasts a similar lifecycle carbon intensity to battery electric vehicles. Switching to RNG uses the same natural gas engine without any additional capital investment once customers adopt CNG.
RNG can be stored as CNG or liquified natural gas (LNG) for use in transportation. Compressed natural gas buses powered with RNG may be the only viable option to reduce the carbon intensity of transit in jurisdictions where the electricity grid is carbon intense. RNG is not only a cleaner option, but it is also more affordable when compared to diesel.
TransLink’s decision to fuel its fleet with RNG is a crucial step in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and moving towards a lower-carbon future. By utilizing RNG, transit authorities and fleet operators can reduce their carbon footprint while also saving costs.
The introduction of RNG does not require a shift in technology or operations because CNG buses are already an established technology. Compressed natural gas buses powered with RNG are a cleaner and cheaper option for transit decarbonization efforts.
FortisBC is looking to the future with a focus on innovation and advancement. The company is exploring new technologies and ideas that have the potential to revolutionize the energy industry and create a more sustainable and efficient future.
With these efforts, FortisBC is positioning itself as a leader in the energy industry, driving positive sustainable, new-energy change for both customers and the planet.
SOURCE & IMAGES:
American Gas Association
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