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Taking Action on Methane Emissions: Untapping Canada’s Agricultural Biogas Opportunity

Keith Halliday Chris Kornas in conjunction with CANZA (Canadian Alliance for Net Zero Agri-food) and the Canadian Biogas Association

We can't reach Canada's net zero targets without tackling methane: While CO2 hogs the headlines, methane represented 14% of Canada's greenhouse-gas emissions in 2021. Tackling methane is especially important in reaching our 2030 targets, since its global warming potential is 72X that of CO2 in its first 20 years in the atmosphere.

We can’t tackle methane without tackling agriculture and manure: Methane from manure on Canadian farms contributed 4 megatonnes of CO2e in 2021. That's the equivalent of 900,000 cars on Canadian roads.

Biodigesters capture methane, and produce other important benefits: Biodigesters capture methane from manure and convert it into a source of renewable natural gas (RNG), displacing fossil fuels. The collateral benefits include new farmer revenue, easily storable energy in the form of RNG for peak winter heat and power, improved nutrient, water and pathogen management.

Canada is only capturing 4% of its biogas potential: While some leading farmers are building biodigesters, their numbers are few. Today, there are only 45 agricultural biogas and RNG systems yet there are ~75,000 farms with animals. We estimate the industry could be 25X bigger and displace 6–8 MT of agricultural methane and fossil fuel emissions.

Farms need significant help to achieve viable business cases for biodigesters: Biodigesters have scaled up dramatically in Europe and the US, but the market remains small in Canada due to the lack of robust incentives. Biodigester economics have proven to be challenging, especially for smaller farms, without tools such as investment tax credits, RNG blend mandates for utilities and accessible clean-fuel credits.

The time is now: It takes years to design, permit and construct a biodigester. With 2030 approaching, Canada needs a concerted effort now to put robust incentives in place and resolve the other barriers covered in this report. COP28's 'Methane Pledge' underlined the growing global momentum to address methane.

Read the report