FortisBC first to purchase renewable natural gas made from wood waste

A biomass crane handling wood waste.

FortisBC and REN Energy International Corporation (REN Energy) announced last week that they are teaming up to offer renewable natural gas produced from wood waste.

The project features technology being used for the first time in North America and represents new opportunities to reduce emissions using British Columbia (BC)’s forestry sector. The production facility will be owned and operated by REN Energy and located near Fruitvale, BC.

Renewable natural gas is a carbon-neutral energy that is made from capturing methane released from decomposing organic waste. This project will make use of waste from forestry operations and sawmills.

Rather than collecting methane from decomposition, syngas will be created through gasification and then converted to methane and purified to meet natural gas line specifications.

Once operational, the technology aims to use for forestry waste in BC and unlock RNG in BC, according to a press release. This will also assist the forestry industry will clean up of bush residuals, thus assisting in forest fire mitigation.

Advancing RNG is directly related to FortisBC’s 30BY30 target – the organizations goal to reduce customers’ greenhouse gas emissions 30% by 2030. FortisBC is also working towards 15% of its natural gas supply to be renewable by 2030, which is in line with the Province’s CleanBC promise.

The project received regulatory approval from the British Columbia Utilities Commission and is expected to be in service by Summer 2021. It is expected to produce 1 million gigajoules of RNG annually. RNG blends with conventional natural gas in FortisBC’s existing infrastructure which includes 49,000 km of natural gas lines in the province.

“The REN team has been working for the past several years to create the REN Solution that creates RNG from wood waste. The plant, the first of its kind in North America, will create an immediate annual economic impact in the Kootenay region, as well our future waste-to-energy project regions will carry similar economic impacts in regard to the creation of hundreds of direct and indirect jobs, significant in-community investments and, of course, the clean energy product we create,” said Philip Viggiani, president of REN Energy.

Doug Stout, vice-president of market development and external relations at FortisBC commented, “This and future projects like it will rely on waste already generated by sustainable forestry, making it a credible addition to energy production in this province.”

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