Renewable natural gas is a zero-carbon resource produced from local, organic materials like food, agricultural and forestry waste, wastewater, or landfills. As these materials decompose, they produce methane. That methane can be captured, conditioned to pipeline quality and delivered in the existing pipeline system to homes and businesses where it can be used in existing appliances and equipment. It can also be used in natural gas vehicles. This process closes the loop on waste and provides a renewable energy option for the natural gas system, in the same way that wind and solar are used to generate renewable electricity.
In 2018, the Oregon Department of Energy released its first inventory of technical potential and estimated there are enough sources statewide to produce nearly 50 billion cubic feet (BCF) of renewable natural gas. That's equivalent to the total amount of natural gas used by all Oregon residential customers today.
On a national level, the technical potential for renewable natural gas is correspondingly greater. A recent study, conducted by ICF Consulting through the American Gas Foundation, estimates the technical potential of renewable natural gas supply is substantial when compared to current natural gas throughput. In fact, when looking at development costs and existing technologies, the report estimates there is enough potential renewable natural gas to achieve a 95% reduction in emissions in the residential sector.
The supply estimates from the ICF report do not include the potential for renewable hydrogen for the pipeline network or the impacts of deep energy efficiency to reduce future energy use. With these collective innovations pursued together, the company believes a carbon neutral vision for the gas pipeline network is possible.
Check out NW Natural's Plans for RNG and Frequently Asked Questions.
Rulemaking for Senate Bill 98 (SB 98) is now complete, giving NW Natural a clear path to acquire renewable natural gas on behalf of customers, and forging the way for this newest renewable resource to be an increasing part of the state's energy supply.
NW Natural worked collaboratively with legislators and renewable natural gas stakeholders to create SB 98, a groundbreaking bill that was signed into law by Oregon Governor Kate Brown last year. Since then, the Public Utility Commission of Oregon (OPUC), consumer groups and natural gas utilities have been working through a rulemaking process, so natural gas utilities can begin procuring renewable natural gas under the legislation.
Renewable natural gas is a zero-carbon resource produced from local organic materials such as food, agricultural and forestry waste, wastewater or landfills. The gas can be cleaned and added into the existing natural gas system, where it is fully interchangeable with conventional natural gas.
NW Natural partnered with the city of Portland to put renewable natural gas — converted from the city’s largest wastewater treatment plant — into our pipeline and then into vehicles. In March 2018, Commissioner Nick Fish and the Bureau of Environmental Services announced the opening of a natural gas fueling station at the City’s wastewater treatment plant. The station will offer a clean-air alternative to diesel for City vehicles operating at the plant in industrial North Portland.
RNG can be used in combination with or in place of conventional natural gas. It can fuel heavy-duty vehicles or be blended into our pipeline system to serve homes and businesses.
The Coalition for Renewable Natural Gas (RNG Coalition) serves as the public policy advocate and education platform for the Renewable Natural Gas industry in North America. The RNG Coalition advocates for increased development, deployment and utilization of renewable natural gas so that present and future generations will have access to this domestic, renewable, clean fuel and energy supply.