Sustainability & Energy Efficiency

Sustainable Procurement Strategies with Renewable Natural Gas

3 min read

As more businesses are looking to decarbonize their energy supply and implement sustainable operations, many are targeting a reduction in carbon emissions associated with natural gas use. With a strategic approach to natural gas procurement, businesses can build a customized plan to understand their operational footprint and achieve long-term sustainability goals. One strategic option is to consider incorporating Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) into a natural gas procurement strategy.

What is Renewable Natural Gas?

RNG is physical pipeline-quality natural gas derived from the decomposition of organic matter plus associated environmental attributes. It begins as raw biogas which is then purified to meet applicable pressure, quality and heat content requirements before being injected into a pipeline, like regular natural gas. Biogas can be produced by municipal solid waste landfills, wastewater treatment plant digesters, livestock farms, food production facilities, and organic waste management operations.

The environmental impact of RNG

RNG projects capture and recover methane from landfills or anaerobic digestion (AD) plants. Because methane has a global warming potential more than 25 times that of CO2, and a relatively short (12-year) atmospheric life, capturing and utilizing these emissions can have a near-term beneficial impact on global climate change mitigation, compared to continued use of conventional, fossil-derived natural gas.

Regarding transportation emissions, replacing traditional diesel or gasoline engines with natural gas vehicles that utilize RNG can also significantly contribute to the reduction of nitrogen oxide and particulate matter emissions, resulting in improved local air quality.

Ultimately, replacing fossil fuels with RNG can contribute to lower CO2 emissions on a lifecycle basis. Compared with natural gas used as a transportation fuel in vehicles, the use of RNG can lower emissions by 40 percent .1 In addition, when used to power vehicles, RNG can reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by up to 91 percent relative to gasoline produced from petroleum.2

How RNG impacts your business

The environmental attributes associated with RNG, which include reduced carbon emissions as compared to fossil-derived natural gas, can be paired with end-users’ natural gas consumption to allow end-users to make renewable energy claims associated with natural gas use. Specific sustainability claims and emission reduction levels will depend upon the specific end-use of the  natural gas and the chosen GHG emission reporting standards. A business’s purchase of RNG attributes may also reduce Scope 1 carbon emissions replaced by biogenic sources, without the need to modify existing infrastructure.

Additionally, businesses can leverage Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) for RNG paired with natural gas power generation and renewable fuel credits (such as Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) in the federal Renewable Fuel Standard and Low Carbon Fuel Standard Credits (LCFS Credits) in California’s state level Low Carbon Fuel Standard.

By using sustainable natural gas strategies, businesses can demonstrate to their customers, investors, and employees that they are doing their part to create a cleaner world by reducing their GHG emissions. Constellation is an active participant in the RNG market and can help you to leverage relationships with energy procurement companies to develop your RNG strategy.

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