Renewable Natural Gas: Reducing Emissions and Generating Value for Landfills

Posted on Monday, September 26, 2022
Municipal solid waste landfills are the third-largest source of human-related methane emissions in the United States.[EPA] Methane is the second most abundant greenhouse gas after carbon dioxide, accounting for approximately 20% of global emissions, and is more than 25 times more potent at trapping heat in the atmosphere.[EPA] By partnering with a renewable natural gas (RNG) developer to capture the methane, landfills can significantly reduce emissions by converting the landfill gas into renewable energy. 

After capturing the landfill gas, the methane can be converted into RNG, used to generate electricity or used directly in thermal applications as a Medium-Btu gas. An accelerating number of landfills have been implementing RNG projects and make up nearly 70% of the RNG that is produced.[RNG Coalition] 


In addition to the environmental benefits, implementing an RNG project to capture landfill gas generates economic benefits by creating revenue and jobs in the community. When RNG is used in the transportation industry to fuel natural gas vehicles, it can displace diesel vehicles and reduce the emissions that come from them while creating credits called Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs). Obligated parties such as refiners or importers of gasoline or diesel fuel must purchase RINs to meet their Renewable Volume Obligation and comply with the Renewable Fuel Standard.

Determining if Renewable Natural Gas is a Good Fit for Your Landfill
There are many items to consider when evaluating an RNG project for your landfill. First is identifying how the landfill gas is currently being used. Is it being flared or collected and used for electricity generation or Medium-Btu gas? If it is being used for electricity generation or direct use Medium-Btu gas, who has the gas rights and when does the contract or power purchase agreement expire?

To convert landfill gas to RNG, it must be upgraded to meet natural gas pipeline quality standards.[U.S. Department of Energy] To evaluate how well a landfill would perform in producing RNG, landfill owners and operators should determine how much landfill gas they currently produce and determine the methane content of the landfill gas. Additionally, they should know the planned closure date of the landfill, any potential expansion plans and the availability of local natural gas infrastructure or pipelines. 

Choosing the right RNG developer will determine how quickly you can begin capturing methane, reducing emissions and maximizing the value your landfill can generate. Kinetrex Energy, a Kinder Morgan company, is a vertically-integrated RNG developer that has an unmatched ability to execute. Our relationships and expertise as an RNG developer and solutions provider give our landfill partners a seamless, end-to-end experience. As part of Kinder Morgan, one of the largest energy infrastructure companies in North America, our access to capital and resources enables us to efficiently deliver on commitments and move the energy transition forward. 

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