Stories and news from FortisBC

5 exciting ways we’re getting renewable energy from waste

January 27, 2021

Family in a kitchen

We’re working towards an ambitious goal of reducing our customers’ emissions by 30 per cent by 2030—we call it 30BY30. And to achieve this, we’re helping customers transition from diesel to lower-carbon fuels like liquefied natural gas for ships and compressed natural gas for truck fleets. We’re building electric vehicle (EV) charging stations to encourage the use of EVs on BC roads. We’re investing approximately $368.5 million from 2019 to 2022 in energy conservation programs to help our customers use less energy.

We’re also working hard to create enough carbon-neutral Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) to make up 15 per cent of our overall natural gas supply. “We’re always looking for innovative, cost-effective ways to increase our renewable gas supply through our partnerships with municipalities and industry,” says Scott Gramm, FortisBC’s renewable gas supply manager. “Looking beyond 2030, our long-term vision is for renewable gas to make up the bulk of the gas we provide to customers, reducing the use of conventional gas every year.”

What is Renewable Natural Gas?

How is Renewable Natural Gas made?

When bacteria consume decaying organic matter, they produce methane (a greenhouse gas) as a byproduct. That’s what’s happening in your compost bucket, and at your local landfill—where the methane escapes into the atmosphere. With the right equipment in place, the methane can be captured, cleaned and injected into the local natural gas distribution system as RNG.

Waste source graph

Waste source graph

5 ways we’re creating RNG with our municipal and commercial partners:

1. BC landfills 

Two of the earliest RNG suppliers for FortisBC are Kelowna’s Glenmore Landfill, and the Salmon Arm Landfill. Now, 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. “This is a significant step forward in our ongoing efforts to maximize the beneficial use of the gas we recover at the landfill,” said Cheryl Nelms, General Manager, Project Delivery, Metro Vancouver.

2. Wastewater 

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. It's set to begin operations later this year.

“Generating renewable natural gas from wastewater treatment is a win-win for residents and the environment, and the Lulu Island Renewable Natural Gas Facility is just one of the innovative climate action projects underway in Metro Vancouver, as we work together toward the goal of becoming a carbon-neutral region by 2050,” said Sav Dhaliwal, chair of the Metro Vancouver Board of Directors. “Partnerships such as this will be key to the success of Climate 2050, our strategy for addressing and reducing the impacts of climate change on regional infrastructure, ecosystems and communities.”

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 expected to start up as soon as 2022.

“We are extremely pleased with our FortisBC agreement spanning 20 years, to provide RNG to our fellow BC customers,” said Philip Viggiani, president of REN Energy. “REN Energy plans to be a major factor in assisting with the FortisBC mandate of creating carbon-neutral RNG.”

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 will eventually be 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 and Seabreeze Dairy Farm in Delta are two of FortisBC’s first RNG suppliers. Dicklands Farms in Chilliwack will soon be making RNG as well. 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 which becomes fertilizer for local crops, creating a sustainable loop of food, waste and energy.

Charting a path to 2050

We commissioned Guidehouse Inc., a leading global consulting firm, to chart a viable path for BC to achieve the provincial government’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 80 per cent below 2007 levels by 2050. Guidehouse experts concluded electrification combined with the natural gas system could achieve that target for $100 billion less than using electricity as the only energy source.1

“FortisBC is committed to pursuing this exciting, diverse approach to meeting our customers’ energy needs while helping the province achieve its greenhouse gas emission reduction targets. We’re rethinking energy—where it comes from, and how we use it—and creating innovative partnerships with BC communities, business, industry and government to make big strides towards a cleaner future.”

– Scott Gramm, FortisBC’s renewable gas supply manager

Interested in signing up for RNG, or learning more?

As demand for RNG from BC residents and businesses has surged over the past few years, FortisBC currently has more demand than supply. However, with new suppliers coming on board, we should soon be able to deliver more RNG to customers who want it. If you’re interested, you can get on the wait list.

11,000 renewable natural gas customers
225,000 GJ

1 Pathways for British Columbia to achieve its GHG reduction goals; Guidehouse, 2020, p. 31.

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