(Vancouver Renewable Energy Coop photo)

(Vancouver Renewable Energy Coop photo)

HOLM: Renewable Natural Gas

Margaret Holm is a new columnist writing about solutions to global warming

My husband and I live in an old house which over the years has been heated with oil, electric baseboards, and for the past thirty years, with a natural gas furnace. Although natural gas is considered a cleaner fossil fuel than coal or oil, it is extracted from the ground by fracking and has a much higher carbon footprint than electricity.

To tackle global warming, we need to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases which trap heat in the atmosphere. About 11% of emissions come from residential buildings, so the decisions we make about home heating and cooling can make a big difference to our carbon footprint.

Installing an electric heat pump is the best energy efficient and low emission choice for new homes or switching out baseboard heaters. But it is an expensive option if you already own a natural gas furnace. Luckily, homeowners in B.C. who use natural gas have another great option which is to switch all or some portion of your monthly bill to renewable natural gas.

Renewable Natural Gas is obtained from the breakdown of agricultural, forestry, and landfill waste. Methane produced by decomposing waste from dairy farms or landfill garbage that would ordinarily escape into the air is processed and added into the natural gas pipeline system and is considered carbon neutral.

FortisBC was the first utility company in North America to offer renewable natural gas to customers. Currently about 1% of Fortis customers use biogas from a half dozen facilities including Kelowna’s Glenmore Landfill, as well as dairy, food processing and organic compost operations in the Lower Mainland.

A biomass crane handling wood waste. (CNW Group/FortisBC)

Jason Wolfe, Director of Energy Solutions for FortisBC states, “We have a 30 by 30 plan to reduce our own and our customers’ emissions by 30 percent by 2030. There are a whole mix of new sources coming on stream including REN Energy in Fruitvale using forestry and sawmill wood waste and the Delta and Vancouver landfills. By mid-2022 we expect to have ten times the supply volume for customers.”

FortisBC plans to have 15 % of its natural gas supply come from renewable sources by 2030 and 30 % by 2050. Hydrogen is also being tested as a zero-emission additive to natural gas as well as a fuel source on its own.

Refining methane from organic waste does cost more to produce so customers who chose to purchase 100 % renewable will pay more each month for carbon neutral biogas. But they will still be paying considerably less than electric heating and can opt for using from 5 to 100 % renewable natural gas. They will also avoid paying the carbon tax levy for the renewable natural gas.

Renewable energy

Every day in B.C. tons of garbage arrives in landfills, animal manure decomposes in farmers’ fields, wood waste is burned, and food and agricultural waste is driven to landfills. These emissions can be put to work instead of escaping into our atmosphere and can reduce the amount of conventional fossil fuel taken out of the ground. It is part of the solution to create a clean energy future.

About Margaret Holm:

Margaret Holm

Margaret Holm lives in Penticton and is an educator and writer for environmental conservation and climate engagement.

Contact Holm at margaretholm@shaw.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Columnist

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

FILE - In this April 19, 2021, file photo, Keidy Ventura, 17, receives her first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in West New York, N.J. States across the country are dramatically scaling back their COVID-19 vaccine orders as interest in the shots wanes, putting the goal of herd immunity further out of reach. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)
5 more deaths, 131 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health over the weekend

Those 18-years and older in high-transmission neighbourhoods can register for the vaccine

Danny Fulton receives his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Coast Capri Hotel on April 27. The pop-up clinic was hosted by the First Nations Health Authority. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
All adults in Rutland, Summerland now eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccine

Province expands age range to 18+ for vaccinations in ‘high transmission’ areas

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Penticton RCMP search for 2 suspicious men

Police searching the area of Arawana Forest Service Road

Penticton Lions are hoping to send kids and adults with disabilities to Camp Winfield through a 50/50 raffle draw on now. (Submitted)
Penticton’s Lion’s Club helps to send kids to Camp Winfield

Online 50/50 raffle tickets will send kids and adults with disabilities to Camp Winfield

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about phase two in B.C.’s COVID-19 immunization plan. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
All of B.C. will eventually ease out of COVID-19 restrictions at same time: Henry

People who have received two doses of a vaccine can’t yet return to post-pandemic activities with each other, she says

Winnipeg Jets’ Andrew Copp (9) and Edmonton Oilers goaltender Mike Smith (41) watch an incoming shot during second period NHL action in Winnipeg, Monday, April 26, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade
‘Very jealous’: Canadian teams can’t take advantage of NHL’s relaxed COVID-19 rules

League eased some tight COVID-19 health and safety protocols over the weekend for fully vaccinated clubs

A map of Huu-ay-aht-owned forestry cutblock. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
B.C. First Nations restrict access to territory in wake of forestry standoffs

Huu-ay-aht set up checkpoints after heated and dangerous incidents on southwest Vancouver Island

RCMP are searching for Philip Toner, who is a ‘person of interest’ in the investigation of a suspicious death in Kootenay National Park last week. Photo courtesy BC RCMP.
RCMP identify ‘person of interest’ in Kootenay National Park suspicious death

Police are looking for Philip Toner, who was known to a woman found dead near Radium last week

Vancouver Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko (35) makes a save on Winnipeg Jets’ Nate Thompson (11) during second period NHL action in Winnipeg, Monday, May 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade
Vancouver Canucks see NHL playoff hopes dashed despite 3-1 win over Winnipeg

Montreal Canadiens earn final North Division post-season spot

The southern mountain caribou, an iconic species for the Splatsin First Nation, is threatened with extinction, much to the dismay of the First Nation. (Province of B.C. photo)
Okanagan First Nation band concerned over dwindling caribou herd

Southern mountain caribou at risk of extinction, much to dismay of Splatsin First Nation near Enderby

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
UPDATE: Winfield road open following police, coroner investigation

Pelmewash Parkway closure near Highway 97 connection

Kelowna resident Sally Wallick helped rescue a kayaker in distress a week and a half ago. (Sally Wallick/Contributed)
VIDEO: Kelowna woman rescues capsized kayaker in Okanagan Lake

Sally Wallick is asking people to be prepared for the cold water and unpredictable winds

Most Read