The Russia-Ukraine crisis has disrupted the flow of oil, coal, and gas, making a tenuous situation much worse for energy markets, especially in Europe and the United States. To mitigate further disruption of supplies from Russia, countries are now working in concerted efforts to look for alternative energy sources. Renewable natural gas is emerging as a favorite alternative among major economies, sustainability-conscious investors, and environmental players concerned with the role of fossil fuels in global warming. This blog focuses on exploring America's renewable natural gas potential.
Renewable natural gas (RNG), or biomethane, is a pipeline-quality gas that is fully interchangeable with fossil gas and used to power natural gas vehicles. RNG is a biogas because it is a product of decomposing organic matter processed to meet high purity standards. We can use biomethane as a transportation fuel in the form of liquefied natural gas (LNG) or compressed natural gas (CNG). Before use, biomethane becomes purified and conditioned to eliminate or minimize non-methane elements.
There are two broad ways to produce RNG: "passive" production and "active" production. Passive production involves the systematic collection of biogases from naturally occurring processes. Active production entails using chemical reactions engineered to produce the gas from the appropriate feedstock. Some common passive production sources include:
The following are some reasons biomethane is an alternative to fossil fuels:
The American Gas Association has roped in RNG as a major emissions reduction opportunity in its strive to reach net zero emissions by 2050. However, experts say to achieve this target, there needs to be an aggressive scale-up of both passive and active production of RNG. With the revelation that landfills, food waste, animal manure, and wastewater have a combined potential of just 7% of U.S. natural gas consumption, there is a need to address some key production barriers, including the availability of feedstocks and capital costs to make biomethane projects sustainable.
The current oil and gas supply disruptions amid the ongoing Russia and Ukraine war have forced major economies to consider alternative energy sources to cut their overdependence on foreign sources. RNG is emerging as a favorite alternative to fossil fuels because of its wide availability, lower production costs, and higher sustainability. However, production barriers, such as feedstock availability and capital costs, need to be addressed to make this project viable.
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