Uses & Benefits of RNG

Benefits of RNG

Using RNG, thereby reducing methane emissions, produces positive outcomes for local communities and the environment. RNG production projects create partnerships among citizens, nonprofit organizations, local governments, and industry in sustainable community planning. The benefits of RNG projects are significant for the following reasons.

Benefit the Community and Economy

RNG is a proven economic driver and job creator in communities across the country – not just for farmers, but also for local businesses, governments and municipalities.

The RNG industry has experienced unprecedented growth in recent years with hundreds of RNG projects either operational, under construction or in development in North America. In fact, each new RNG production facility creates 5-7 times more jobs than an equivalently sized petroleum refinery!

Under a public-private partnership, an RNG production facility can result in increased revenue for communities and lower operational costs associated with waste management away from local governments. Moreover, while other green options often involve major, costly structural changes, RNG offers governments, consumers and businesses the ability to utilize current natural gas infrastructure, while shifting to a clean energy alternative.

By linking communities with innovative ways to deal with their biogas, communities enjoy increased environmental protection, better waste management, and responsible community planning.

RNG produces billions of dollars in economic impact, and RNG facilities support over 130,000 clean energy sector jobs in construction, operations, maintenance, manufacturing and engineering.

Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

With a global warming potential more than 25 times greater than CO2 and a short (12-year) atmospheric life, methane is a potent greenhouse gas that is a key contributor to global climate change. As a result, reducing methane emissions from MSW landfills is one of the best ways to achieve a near-term beneficial impact in mitigating global climate change. In addition, methane contributes to background tropospheric ozone levels as an ozone precursor. Finally, many of the technologies and practices that reduce methane emissions also reduce associated emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), odors, and other local air pollutants.

*CO2 emissions from MSW landfills are not considered to contribute to global climate change because the carbon was contained in recently living biomass. The same CO2 would be emitted as a result of the natural decomposition of the organic waste materials outside the landfill environment.

Reduce Air Pollution by Offsetting Non-Renewable Resources

Producing energy from biogas offsets the use of non-renewable resources, such as coal, oil, or natural gas, to produce the same amount of energy. This can avoid emissions of CO2, criteria pollutants such as sulfur dioxide (a major contributor to acid rain), particulate matter (a respiratory health concern), and nitrogen oxides (NOX), and trace hazardous air pollutants from power plants and other fossil fuel users.

Create Health and Safety Benefits

Upgrading biogas to RNG eliminates most of the non-methane organic compounds (including hazardous air pollutants and VOCs) that are present at low concentrations in uncontrolled LFG, which reduces possible health risks from these compounds. In addition, gas collection can improve safety by reducing explosion hazards from gas accumulation in structures on or near the landfill.

Reduce Environmental Compliance Costs

Current EPA regulations under the Clean Air Act require many larger landfills to collect and combust LFG. There are several compliance options, including flaring the gas or installing an LFG use system. Only LFG energy recovery gives communities and landfill owners the opportunity to reduce the costs associated with regulatory compliance by turning pollution into a valuable community resource.

Produce Renewable Hydrogen

Hydrogen generators can use RNG or biomethane to create renewable hydrogen (RH2), providing similar opportunities for farmers and local communities to create clean, storable energy, while reducing waste, decarbonizing and making use of existing infrastructure.

Although still a relatively new commodity, RH2 at scale could significantly reduce carbon emissions from thermal and mobility applications. When RH2 production is paired with carbon capture and sequestration, the process is ultimately carbon-negative. Therefore, the material used to produce RNG today can be shifted toward RH2 production in the long run, providing another avenue for zero-carbon and carbon-negative renewable gas in thermal and mobility applications.

Sources & Additional Information

Blue US Environmental Protection Agency logo
Blue and green Coalition of Renewable Natural Gas logo

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