Renewable Natural Gas


Renewable Natural Gas is pipeline quality or transportation fuel quality biogas. RNG is primarily methane captured off landfills, farm digesters, and wastewater treatment plants. RNG is produced from non-fossil, organic waste sources and is 100% compatible with geologic natural gas – as a drop in blend or complete substitute. On a lifecycle basis, RNG yields a 70-130% emission reduction as compared to diesel. 

Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program

The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) requires transportation fuel sold in the United States to contain a minimum volume of renewable fuels to replace or reduce the quantity of petroleum-based transportation fuel, heating oil or jet fuel each year. It was part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA), and is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The four renewable fuel categories under the RFS are:

  • Biomass-based diesel

  • Cellulosic biofuel

  • Advanced biofuel

  • Total renewable fuel

For a fuel to qualify as a renewable fuel under the RFS program:

  • Fuels must achieve a reduction in EPA designated greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as compared to a 2005 petroleum baseline.

  • Companies need to petition for new fuel pathway. A fuel pathway is a specific combination of three components: (1) feedstock, (2) production process and (3) fuel type.

  • RINs (Renewable Identification Numbers) are used for bookkeeping & meeting RFS targets

Most biomethane qualifies as Cellulosic Biofuel under the RFS and generates a D3 RIN. In some cases, biomethane qualifies as an Advanced Biofuel and generates a D5 RIN.

Who Is using RNG vehicle fuel?

RNG is produced for vehicle fuel at 37 sites across the U.S. In 2016, 230 Million gallons of RNG will fuel mostly medium and heavy duty vehicles at public, private and municipal stations.  

UPS

  • Agreement with Clean Energy Fuels Corp. to use up to 500,000 gallon equivalents of RNG annually in Texas. 

  • UPS stations in Houston & Mesquite will dispense the RLNG to a fleet of about 140 UPS tractors. 

  • UPS California current agreement w/ Clean Energy, is using 1.5 M gallon equivalents of RCNG, UPS operates nearly 400 CNG vehicles. 

Fair Oaks Farm, one of the largest dairy farms nationwide, has partnered with ampCNG to transform manure from 15,000 cows into 1.5 million DGEs of bio-CNG per year. ampCNG operates 19 public CNG stations and provides fuel for dairy haulers and other national fleets. It currently produces  approximately two million DGEs of RNG per year, with plans to dispense 100% RCNG in 2017.

How much is a RIN worth?

RINS are based on an ethanol gallon. Converted into renewable CNG measurements, a gasoline gallon equivalent of CNG has 1.5 RIN and is worth about $3 in 2016. According to Luke Morrow, Morrow Renewables, typically 70-80 percent of the $3 value goes to the producer, 10-20 percent to the pipeline distribution company and 2.5-10 percent to the refueling station owner. 

Parties can either use actual "wet" gallons, trade through brokers, or purchase credits from other obligated parties. These credits are identified and tracked through a Renewable Identification Number and are known as RINs. See RIN Fact Sheet.

RNG used in vehicles generates higher value than that used in power generation, because there are no RINs available for power generation. 

Can I create long-term contracts with a refiner or other obligated party to buy my RINs?

Renewable fuel producers such as landfill operators, dairy farms or other organic waste producers generate RINs when a producer makes a gallon of renewable fuel. They can be traded, carried over to the following year and used by “obligated parties” to show compliance with their volume obligations. RINs have a vintage year corresponding to the year they are produced and typically have a maximum life span of 18 months.

Are there sources of RNG in Texas?

  • Cambrian Energy owns and operates a biomethane production facility at: McCommas Bluff landfill in Dallas. (15 million cubic feet per day, 2014.)

  • Morrow Renewables owns and operates six landfill sites in south Texas to produce RNG for vehicle use.

  • Toro Energy owns and operates two landfill sites in Texas. 

  • Montauk Energy owns and operates two landfill sites in Texas. 

  • Ameresco developed and operates the San Antonio Wastewater Treatment Plant RNG project. 

The Texas Natural Gas Foundation provides scholarly research, education and public awareness about Texas natural gas and its vital role in energy security, economic growth and benefits to the environment.