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Here’s an overview of key biogas news. This week’s edition includes important governments making actions and decisive investments for natural gas, renewable energy and energy efficiency, companies working together to bring forward RNG, biogas and natural gas projects and researches showing how biogas and biomethane gains momentum in European countries.
The Ministère de l’Énergie et des Ressources naturelles (MERN) and the Société du Plan Nord (SPN) are launching a call for proposals to identify a supplier able to provide liquefied natural gas (LNG) to the Côte-Nord region. The call for proposals was announced in Québec’s 2018-2019 Economic Plan and is the first step in a process designed to supply LNG to large manufacturing companies, mining companies, ship owners and maritime transportation companies in the Côte-Nord region. Access to stable supplies of LNG at a competitive price, along with the creation of an effective logistics chain for distribution purposes, will help promote economic development in the region. The availability of natural gas will also allow companies to become more competitive, and will serve as an incentive to attract new industrial projects. The result will be an increase in the quantity of LNG consumed and a faster return for the supplier.
The USDA’s Rural Business-Cooperative Service is soliciting fiscal year 2019 applications for the Rural Energy for America Program, which helps agricultural producers and rural small businesses install renewable energy systems and make energy efficiency improvements. REAP offers two types of funding assistance. Under the first, Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvement Assistance, the USDA provides grants and guaranteed loans to agricultural producers and rural small businesses to purchase and install renewable energy systems and make energy efficiency improvements. Eligible renewable energy systems are biomass, including anaerobic digesters, wind, solar, small-hydo-electric, ocean, geothermal or hydrogen derived from renewable resources.
The public comment period on the U.S. EPA’s proposed rule to set 2019 renewable volume obligations (RVOs) under the Renewable Fuel Standard, along with the 2020 RVO for biomass based diesel, closed Aug. 17. More than 290,000 public comments were filed on the proposal. Many in the biofuels industry focused on the impact of small refinery hardship waivers in their submissions to the EPA. The EPA released the proposed rule on June 26. It aims to require 19.88 billion gallons of biofuels to be blended into the U.S. fuel supply in 2019, up from 19.29 billion gallons in 2018. The proposed 19.88 billion gallon RVO for 2019 includes 381 million gallons of cellulosic biofuel, 4.88 billion gallons of advanced biofuel and 2.1 billion gallons of biomass-based diesel. The 2019 RVO for biomass-based diesel was set last year.
Tough new rules on marine fuel are forcing shipowners to explore liquefied natural gas as a cleaner alternative and ports such as Gibraltar are preparing to offer upgraded refueling facilities in the shipping industry’s biggest shake-up in decades. From 2020, International Maritime Organization rules will ban ships from using fuels with a sulfur content above 0.5 percent, compared with 3.5 percent now, unless they are equipped to clean up sulfur emissions. This will be enforced by fines levied by the IMO’s member states. Using LNG to power ships instead of heavy fuel oil or the lighter marine gasoil can reduce polluting emissions of nitrogen oxides and sulfur oxides by 90 to 95 percent, according to industry estimates. The stakes are high. Analysts at Swiss bank UBS estimate that the green shipping market could be worth at least $250 billion over the next five years.
Hennepin County is exploring the potential of processing organic waste through anaerobic digestion. The county is looking to find an entity that could process at least 25,000 tons of organic waste annually via anaerobic digestion. It’s requesting that potential vendors for the project submit their qualifications and preliminary plans for anaerobically digesting the waste by early September. Anaerobic digestion is a series of processes in which microorganisms break down biodegradable material in the absence of oxygen, according to the American Biogas Council. The processes lead to the creation of biogas, which can be combusted to generate electricity and heat or can be processed into renewable natural gas and transportation fuels, according to the council. The county’s request for information comes as it works toward the goal of recycling 75 percent of waste by 2030.
Xebec Adsorption Inc. (TSXV: XBC) (“Xebec”), a global provider of clean energy solutions announced today that it has received a multi-million dollar landfill gas upgrading order from a U.S. based customer to be delivered in Q1/2019. Xebec has been developing and refining its landfill gas purification technology for decades, and today offers the leading edge solution for the separation of Nitrogen (N2), Oxygen (O2) and Carbon Dioxide (CO2) within a single stage Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) unit. This particular Xebec PSA system, called a Nitrogen Rejection Unit (NRU), has the lowest operating and maintenance cost compared to all other NRU technologies. The system can operate in a wide range of CO2 levels, allowing full optimization of the CO2 removal process upstream of the NRU, maximizing the overall efficiency of the landfill gas upgrading plant.
Three Canadian cleantech companies will receive more than $500,000 funding to test technologies that can produce products other than methane from biogas. Foresight Cleantech Accelerator Centre has chosen three finalists in its ARCTIC Innovation Challenge to work with Seabreeze Farm in Delta, B.C. to test their technologies. FortisBC already produces renewable natural gas (RNG) at the Delta dairy farm from manure. RNG, or biogas, is a form of natural gas derived from organic waste. But methane isn’t the only useful thing that can be produced from organic waste like manure. Nitrogen and phosphorous, used to make fertilizers, can also be extracted from the sludge that is left over from the biogas process.
DTE Energy broke ground last week on a project with Wisconsin-based Pagel’s Ponderosa Dairy to begin creating renewable natural gas (RNG) generated from dairy cow waste as a fuel to power compressed natural gas vehicles, offsetting the use of fossil-based fuels. The Kewaunee, Wisc.-based project is the first dairy-to-RNG facility for DTE’s Power & Industrial group, which specializes in large-scale renewable energy projects across the United States. DTE has launched a broad sustainability initiative that will cut methane emissions by 80 percent by 2040. “This project demonstrates DTE’s commitment to invest in renewable energy projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions while providing customers with reliable and affordable energy, whether it’s light and heat for homes and businesses or clean fuel for vehicles,” said Kevin Dobson, vice president of business development, DTE Biomass Energy.
The popularity of biogas as a renewable energy source has exponentially soared in the last few years, massively impacting Europe biogas market, according to a report by Global Market Insights. Unlike fossil fuels like oil and coal, biogas does not add to the greenhouse effect, a factor that has encouraged the European Union to undertake favourable measures for promoting the utilization of this eco-friendly fuel, providing a further stimulus to Europe biogas market. Many European countries have been relentlessly striving to curb greenhouse gas emissions in order to maintain environmental safety – for instance, Germany is planning to cut down its emissions by 40 per cent by 2020 and close to 95 per cent by 2050, under its Climate Action Program.
The proportion of biomethane in vehicle grade gas at Swedish refueling stations continues to increase. New figures from Statistics Sweden for the first half of 2018 show that the renewable share in vehicle gas is just over 90 percent. In addition, new car registrations for July suggests that the government’s introduction of “bonus-malus” environmental rules for new vehicles may already have had a positive effect on natural gas vehicle (NGV) sales. Statistics for the first half of 2018 released by Statistics Sweden on August 17 show that the proportion of biomethane (also known as green gas or renewable natural gas – RNG) in vehicle gas sold to motorists at filling stations is at 90.8 percent, up almost 4 percent compared to the full year 2017 and up almost 8 percent on 2016.