On the Catalyst with Shayle Kann podcast this week:
Landfills, dairy farms and wastewater plants all emit methane, the potent greenhouse gas produced when organic material decomposes in the absence of oxygen.
But instead of emitting that methane (often called biogas or waste methane), it’s possible to capture and refine it, resulting in an end product known as renewable natural gas, or RNG. Capturing methane that would have been emitted anyway can create RNG that’s carbon-neutral or carbon-negative (although that’s an issue that’s still up for debate). And using that RNG to displace fossil-fuel-derived natural gas can, in theory, cut overall emissions.
Major players in energy are betting big on RNG. Last fall, BP acquired RNG producer Archaea for $4.1 billion, Shell bought Nature Energy for nearly $2 billion, and NextEra purchased $1.1 billion in RNG assets from Energy Power Partners.
So what’s behind this recent flurry of activity? And to what extent could RNG actually offset carbon emissions?
In this episode, Shayle talks to Brandon Moffatt, co-founder of StormFisher, an RNG and hydrogen producer.
They cover topics including:
RNG feedstocks such as dairy farms, wastewater treatment plants and landfills.
How much waste methane is available to make RNG.
Government subsidies and compliance programs including California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard and the U.S. EPA’s renewable identification numbers.
Environmental Research Letters: At scale, renewable natural gas systems could be climate-intensive: The influence of methane feedstock and leakage rates
Bloomberg: The gas industry’s survival plan: Make fuel from cow poop
Vox: The false promise of “renewable natural gas”
CBC: Renewable natural gas could help slow climate change, but by how much?
Come watch a live episode of The Carbon Copy! Canary Media and Post Script Media are hosting a live event at Greentown Labs in Somerville, Mass. on April 6. We’ll record a live episode of The Carbon Copy with some very special guests. Get your tickets today.
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