Is Renewable Natural Gas Poised for Future Growth or Doomed to Decline?
Renewable Natural Gas, or methane produced from organic waste rather than through traditional oil and gas production, can be an important “drop-in” lower carbon alternative for natural gas demand. RNG is molecularly identical to, and fully interchangeable with, conventional natural gas, creating a viable pathway to decarbonize natural gas demand that requires little or no change to existing infrastructure or for end users. Strategic players and investors have rushed into the RNG space in several parts of the U.S. and Europe.
Buoyed by a positive regulatory outlook in the U.S. and Europe, RNG is becoming relevant for both decarbonization and energy security. RNG has the potential to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in four ways:
- Abating emissions from generation feedstock (i.e., waste inputs)
- Replacing fossil fuel with bio-based fuel
- Replacing chemical fertilizers with biofertilizers, reducing CO2 emissions, and
- Enabling production of synthetic fuels (power-to-X technology) that are dependent on biogenic CO2.
In addition to these direct GHG abatement benefits, RNG can also boost circular economy efforts, support energy security through supply diversification, and create jobs. There are several possible pathways to RNG deployment, depending on the choice of feedstock sources, production technology, and target end use.