Renewable Natural Gas: your questions, answered

We know you have questions about Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) and we’re happy to answer them. This carbon neutral energy source is playing a big role in our 30BY30 target to reduce our customers’ greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 30 per cent by 2030.

So what is Renewable Natural Gas anyway?

It’s a carbon neutral, renewable energy source that puts waste to work. When organic waste like rotting food, waste water or cow manure decomposes, it releases carbon dioxide and methane, also known as biogas, into the atmosphere. That raw biogas, a powerful GHG, can instead be captured and purified to create RNG, which can be used the same way as conventional natural gas. 

We deliver RNG through our existing gas system, and customers use it in their standard natural gas appliances. RNG is a ‘drop-in’ fuel that replaces natural gas—no special equipment or infrastructure is needed from builders or customers. By 2050 our goal is for the gas in our system to be 75 per cent renewable gases.

An illustration showing carbon dioxide and methane being collected from decomposing waste emissions. The methane is purified and then added to FortisBC’s existing gas system where it’s delivered to customers.

Is RNG a fossil fuel?

No. Fossil fuels are energy sources that come from the earth’s crust, and through their use, add GHG emissions to the atmosphere. This includes coal, petroleum, oil and conventional natural gas.

RNG, on the other hand, is a biogas created using naturally-occurring greenhouse gases from decomposing organic waste—like cow manure, food waste, wastewater and wood waste that would escape into the atmosphere otherwise. Capturing and cleaning them allows us to use them as energy in our homes and businesses instead, without increasing GHGs in the atmosphere. And the more RNG is used, the less conventional natural gas is used. RNG is certified as carbon neutral by Offsetters.


Do I need new appliances to use RNG?

No. One of the great things about RNG is that it works exactly the same way as conventional gas, so you can continue to use your existing natural gas equipment and appliances. You can switch today—it’s easy. RNG is available for our natural gas customers to use right now. And it’s affordable. You can sign up online, or call us

Why is Renewable Natural Gas important?

RNG is helping our customers reduce their GHG emissions, while using the existing natural gas system. This is important in order to reach a lower carbon energy future. Our policies and actions support the CleanBC Roadmap to 2030, the Paris Climate Agreement and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. 

We hired Guidehouse, a leading energy and environmental consulting agency to analyze BC’s energy needs, and how we can best meet the provincial government’s goal to reduce GHG emissions by 80 per cent by 2050. Their report confirmed that the most cost-effective approach is one that includes multiple types of energy, including renewable gases. That’s why we’re rapidly increasing our supply of RNG.

Is there enough RNG to meet all of BC’s energy needs?

No. What’s important to note, is that while there isn’t enough RNG to meet all the energy needs in BC, there currently isn’t enough electricity or any other energy type to be the sole source of energy in our province.

We believe that British Columbians need access to multiple types of safe, reliable energy, including electricity, RNG, and other sources—still achieving BC’s 2050 GHG reduction goals, but costing British Columbians $100 billion less than using electricity alone.1 

We’re progressing towards our 2050 goal to replace 75 per cent of the natural gas running through our system with renewable gases. We’re working hard to increase our RNG supply, and our natural gas customers can sign up today to choose RNG for all, or a portion of what they currently use natural gas for.

Where does RNG supply come from?

We partner with local farms, landfills, green energy companies and municipalities to create carbon neutral RNG from diverse sources like wood waste, wastewater, residential organic waste bins and agricultural waste. Check out our current RNG suppliers and stay tuned to learn about up and coming suppliers. 

We have several projects on the way from different sources. We encourage municipalities and industry to look at what their landfills, wastewater treatment plants, farms and other sources of organic waste are doing today. This organic waste is likely releasing methane into the atmosphere now, when it could be captured and put to work as RNG instead.

Want to learn more?

Check out a few of our blog posts about RNG:

 

1 https://www.cdn.fortisbc.com/libraries/docs/default-source/about-us-documents/guidehouse-report.pdf?sfvrsn=dbb70958_4 – p5