It seems that, in 2020, the entire nation has finally gotten down to the business of fighting climate change. Climate activists, legislators, and oil and gas industry professionals are all tackling climate change with their own ideas. More often than not, those efforts are focused on increasing the range of solar and wind power as well as finding more efficient ways to extract oil and gas.
Now, however, some Colorado politicians are teaming up with industry personnel to shine a light on a third option: renewable natural gas.
What Is Renewable Natural Gas?
Most experts will tell you that methane emissions are one of the biggest causes of climate change. In these hyper-aware days, that’s almost common knowledge. What you may not know is that the biggest emitter of methane in the United States isn’t the oil and gas industry. It’s the meat and dairy industry.
Renewable natural gas seeks to capture and harness all that potential energy that’s now just going to, ahem, waste. Of course, capturing methane from dairies and pig farms is only one of the ways renewable natural gas is retrieved. Organic waste and wastewater are also viable sources of renewable energy.
Readily Available Energy
Though some of the details are admittedly still being ironed out, there’s a lot to love about renewable natural gas. The infrastructure to harness the methane from waste sources is already mostly in place. Only minor adjustments would need to be made (as opposed to the millions of dollars required to put solar or wind power farms into action). Renewable natural gas would also reduce the number of energy jobs lost in the transition to renewables like solar and wind since oil and gas employees could apply the skills they’ve learned to date rather than needing to learn an entirely new skillset.
Renewable natural gas is also enticing because the source is constant. Wind and solar power offer intermittent power sources. RNG, meanwhile, is always plentiful.
The Colorado Action
In Colorado, Democratic state senator Chris Hansen wants to turn renewable natural gas into a working part of the state’s energy infrastructure. Senate Bill 150 would require energy providers with more than 200,000 customers to purchase 5% of their energy from “biogas” sources. Either that or at least 5% of their power must be captured methane or hydrogen. That number would rise to 15% by 2035.
The standards would outstrip states like Vermont and Hawaii to become some of the most rigorous in the nation. So far, the bill has passed the conservative Colorado Senate and is making its way through the House.