(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

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
47 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health region

1,538 total cases, 399 are active, ten in hospital

The Interior Wildfire Rehabilitation Society is looking for 10-15 acres to house a rehab centre for injured and orphaned wildlife like deer and moose calves. (Black Press file photo)
Okanagan group look for property to house wildlife rehab centre

The Interior Wildlife Rehabilitation Society is looking for 10 acres for injured/orphaned animals

Summerland residents have been receiving a telephone scam with the number showing as the telephone number of the local RCMP detachment. (Black Press Media files)
Summerland RCMP telephone number spoofed in scam calls

Number used in scam attempts from tax agency

Dusty Hill (left) and ZZ Top founder Billy F Gibbons on stage at the band’s first show in Penticton in 2009. The Tres Hombres will be back at the South Okanagan Events Centre May 2 with special guests Cheap Trick. (File photo)
Travel Penticton and SOEC to partner to promote Penticton

ZZ Top and Young Stars is not cancelled, just postponed

Darrell RIchards and his Harley Davidson Streetglide in front of Discovery House in Penticton on Nov. 5. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)
Penticton biker still in running to win custom chopper competition

Darrell Richards is sitting in first in the final round of the group stage

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks along the seawall in North Vancouver Wednesday, November 25, 2020.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
911 new COVID-19 cases, 11 deaths as B.C. sees deadliest week since pandemic began

Hospitalizations reach more than 300 across the province

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

(Village of Lumby photo)
Mysterious, loud ‘boom’ shakes North Okanagan residents

Village staff, Earthquakes Canada aren’t sure what caused the explosion-like sound

Clarence Fulton students collect cash and non-perishable food donations for families in need in their community Friday, Nov. 27. (Jennifer Smith  - Morning Star)
North Okanagan students collect food for families in need

Annual event to support nine school families this year

Take a break from the slopes to discover the rich culture and diversity of Vernon. Michelle Beaudry photo, courtesy Tourism Vernon.
Tourism Vernon could see 40% cut to budget due to COVID-19

New approach to help residents and visitors activate their adventures

Follow public health recommendations, says Interior Health as COVID-19 cases continue to climb in Revelstoke. (Image courtesy CDC)
Revelstoke positive COVID cases grows to 29

Interior Health announced a cluster in the community on Nov. 26

Screenshot of Pastor James Butler giving a sermon at Free Grace Baptist Church in Chilliwack on Nov. 22, 2020. The church has decided to continue in-person services despite a public health order banning worship services that was issued on Nov. 19, 2020. (YouTube)
2 Lower Mainland churches continue in-person services despite public health orders

Pastors say faith groups are unfairly targeted and that charter rights protect their decisions

Leighton Allen Labute faces charges of animal abuse and allegedly has a string of social media accounts depicting disturbing content.
Accused Kelowna hamster killer has trial date set for 2021

Leighton Labute’s three day trial is scheduled for Aug. 16, 2021

(File)
Christmas break extended for UBCO students

Move made to support mental health of students, accommodate ‘overload’ of work

Most Read