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About Renewable Natural Gas (RNG)

Natural Gas Primer published by the Community Office for Resource Efficiency

SUPERIOR FUEL – A transparent vapor, lighter than air, natural gas provides one-fourth the nation’s energy.

THE PAST – By some estimates, almost half the gas that will ever be produced in this country has already been burned.  Much of the “gone” was cheap and easy to produce.  Much of what’s left will be relatively more expensive and difficult to extract.

The U.S. consumes 28% of the globe’s natural gas.  But unlike oil, which we import from 25 nations, 99% of our gas is produced in North America.

THE PERFECT STORM – The metaphor was coined by Matt Simmons, an investment banker to the energy services industry who writes World Oil magazine’s annual review of petroleum developments.  Last year, as oil prices tripled and natural gas prices quadrupled, he advised the Bush campaign about our energy predicament.  “An energy crisis is descending over the world,” Simmons wrote.  “The situation is grave.  The world has not run out of oil and North America has not run out of natural gas.  What we are short of is any way to grow our energy supply.  North America has no excess natural gas capacity.  What we do have is extremely aggressive decline rates, making it harder each year to keep current production from falling.  A massive number of gas-fired power plants have been ordered.  But the gas to run them is simply not there.

POWER SURGE – To meet our growing electricity needs, utilities ordered 180,000 Megawatts of gas-fired power plants to be installed by 2005.  It was a logical thing to do: gas is the cheapest, cleanest way to convert fossil fuel to electricity.  But if ordering one gas turbine makes perfect sense, ordering 1,000 is a recipe for disaster.  No one in the utility industry asked the key question: Can we produce enough gas to run all those plants?  Many experts think the answer is no.

According to the Energy Information Administration, by 2015 we may need 50 % more natural gas than we used in 2001.  But U.S. production has flat-lined for fifteen years, and Canada is treading water, too.  So where’s the new gas going to come from?

Projected Natural Gas Prices Remain Above Historical Levels

Energy Information Administration / Annual Energy Outlook 2006

Renewable energy gets a big boost

Senate Pushes Utilities On ‘Green Sources’

Regulation of Carbon in the U.S. seen as Inevitable

In Europe, carbon emission requirements are mandatory.  The marketplace exists to balance the needs of entities that have credits to sell, with those who need to buy for compliance purposes (just like the CCX only in Europe it is required by law).  Many feel that it is inevitable before the U.S. adopts a similar policy.  While the U.S. still does not require companies to reduce their carbon emissions, many companies see the growing green trend and want to be ahead of the curve.  As mainstream investors view climate change as an important issue, these companies see the value of creating an eco-friendly image while also helping the environment. 

“There are 8.5 million cows in the United States, each producing enough manure to potentially generate about 30 cubic feet of biomethane per day, which could replace significant amounts of natural gas at today’s prices,” said Allen Dusault, Biofuels Project Manager for Sustainable Conservation.