Renewable Natural Gas: Affordable Renewable Fuel for Canada
As governments – both provincial and federal – discuss lower GHG emissions pathways, renewable natural gas (RNG or biomethane) presents a significant and largely untapped opportunity for GHG emission-free energy for our country. Using RNG means putting renewable energy directly in an existing pipeline: showing how pipes can deliver the benefits of renewables as efficiently (and often more cost-effectively) than electric wires.
This publication outlines the potential for RNG in Canada including its role in the reduction of GHG emissions, its value as an affordable renewable energy option for natural gas markets, and the role natural gas utilities can play in delivering this clean renewable product to Canadians.
Ontario has the largest natural gas distribution systems in the country. As a result, it derives significant energy affordability and environmental benefits for its households and businesses. What follows is a summary of energy use in the province and the role that natural gas plays in the province’s energy system.
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The Natural Gas Opportunity: Saskatchewan
Natural gas delivers enormous value for Saskatchewan residents as an abundant, affordable, safe and reliable energy supply option. Additionally, it drives economic growth and delivers environmental benefits for the province. Saskatchewan’s gas delivery system is constantly undergoing innovative improvements that will build on this advantage and help meet the province’s growing energy needs for the future.
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Mission Innovation: The Canadian Natural Gas Innovation Potential
For over 100 years, Canada’s natural gas distribution utilities have delivered safe, reliable, clean and affordable natural gas to millions of consumers across Canada. This long-standing strong customer relationship has been enhanced and supported by collaborative efforts to bring to market innovative natural gas appliances and equipment. These innovative products – whether a condensing furnace or transportation engines that burn clean natural gas – are the direct result of collaborative funding partnerships between public and private sources. However, over the last 20 years, investments into natural gas technology and innovation have declined, further to market changes in the early 1990’s that made it difficult for utilities to make them.
Now, as governments across Canada are introducing taxes on CO2 emissions, natural gas utilities are proposing that some of those revenues be used to deliver benefits back to the customer, as innovation finances for ideas that reduce costs and environmental impacts. This funding will further enhance Canadian household and commercial/industrial building energy efficiency, and reduce costs for residences, business and industry, all through support for new applications for clean and affordable natural gas. It is estimated that by supporting new gas technologies and new markets, Canada can realize 30 megatonnes of GHG reductions by 2030.
ICF International Report -Economic and Emissions Benefits of Expanding Natural Gas Distribution Pipelines to Canadian Consumers
In many parts of Canada, the natural gas distribution utility industry is examining measures that would support pipeline connection opportunities to new communities. Natural gas would be used as a replacement fuel for homes, businesses, and industrial facilities. These communities currently rely on higher cost, and in many cases higher carbon emitting, fuels for heat and power. Across Canada, the average annual cost of heating with electricity, propane, and heating oil are two to three times higher than with natural gas. As a result, there exists significant potential cost and emissions benefits to homeowners, businesses, and industries that gain access to the natural gas pipeline system.
ICF worked with the CGA and Canadian distribution utilities to define the scope of expansions and type of customers that would be reached, ultimately settling on projects representing an investment of CDN$ 1.3 billion, to install roughly 6,000 km of pipeline and service lines.