The Capital Regional District (CRD) recently announced approval in principle of an agreement where FortisBC will purchase Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) produced from the landfill gas (LFG) that is generated from the Hartland Landfill. The RNG will be used by FortisBC for beneficial use in its natural gas distribution system.
The CRD is a regional government for 13 municipalities and three electoral areas on southern Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands, serving more than 413,000 people. FortisBC Energy Inc. owns and operates approximately 49,000 kilometres of natural gas transmission and distribution pipelines. FortisBC Energy Inc. is a subsidiary of Fortis Inc., a major company in the North American regulated electric and gas utility industry.
The project is expected to reduce the region’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by approximately 264,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent over the 25-year project life, the equivalent of removing 2,240 cars from the road for 25 years. The agreement would allow for FortisBC to purchase between 140,000 gigajoules to 280,000 gigajoules each year for 25 years, starting in late 2021.
“Climate action and environmental stewardship are embedded in the CRD’s strategic priorities, committing the CRD to take a leadership role pursuing carbon neutrality,” said CRD Board Chair Colin Plant. “This Earth Day, we are sharing this significant move forward in our commitment to this goal — working alongside local governments to further reduce emissions and explore new resource recovery opportunities are key initiatives associated with this priority. The GHG analysis clearly points to upgrading landfill gas to Renewable Natural Gas as the best decision for the climate.”
RNG is a carbon-neutral energy made from capturing and upgrading the biogas released from decomposing organic waste in the landfill. RNG blends seamlessly with conventional natural gas in the existing natural gas system to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“Ongoing commitment towards a lower carbon future remains a key focus at FortisBC,” said Doug Stout, vice-president of market development and external relations with FortisBC. “I’d like to thank the teams at FortisBC and the Capital Regional District for their collaboration in completing this important application and another positive step forward in achieving provincial GHG reductions.”
Increasing the amount of renewable gases in FortisBC’s system is a vital step towards their 30BY30 target, an ambitious goal to reduce customers’ GHG emissions by 30 per cent by 2030.
In 2004, Hartland’s landfill gas-to-electricity plant began using landfill gas for green power generation and currently supplies electricity to approximately 1,600 homes in the region. The volume of biogas being produced at the landfill has exceeded the capacity of this current system, and the existing infrastructure is reaching the end of its useful life. Two options were evaluated: expanding the existing power generation equipment to sell more electricity to BC Hydro or installing a biogas upgrading facility at Hartland Landfill to upgrade this biogas to RNG. This will reduce greenhouse gas emissions through the displacement of conventional natural gas in alignment with the CRD Board’s climate emergency declaration.
A lifecycle greenhouse gas assessment of the two alternatives found that upgrading landfill gas to RNG will reduce the region’s GHG emissions by approximately 264,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent over the 25-year project life, a significant improvement over the electricity scenario, which would result in an approximate 2,800 tonne reduction.
The CRD and FortisBC are currently working together on a supply contract that will be submitted to the British Columbia Utilities Commission for approval. If approved by the commission, the CRD will continue to be responsible for the ownership and operation of the Hartland Landfill, the landfill gas collection system and the upgrade facility. FortisBC will pay a fixed price per gigajoule for the RNG and will be responsible for the costs associated with injecting the RNG in to the natural gas distribution system.