Renewable Natural Gas Projects Announced for South Dakota, Florida

More projects to increase the supply of renewable natural gas (RNG) have been announced in Florida and South Dakota, as investments continue in technologies to produce a low-carbon fuel that could replace diesel and other fossil fuels.

OPAL Fuels, headquartered in White Plains, New York, on Jan. 5 announced it has completed the ramp-up period of what the renewable fuels supply company said is the first landfill gas-to-RNG facility in Florida.

At the same time, UGI Corp., through its UGI Energy Services (UGIES) subsidiary, said its joint venture partnership—MBL Bioenergy—is set to develop the second and third clusters of dairy manure waste-to-RNG projects in South Dakota. The groups initially announced what they call the Moody RNG cluster project in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, in May 2022.

Several Sources for Biogas

RNG, or biomethane, is biogas that has been upgraded for use in place of fossil natural gas, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The biogas used to produce RNG comes from several sources, including landfills, along with digesters at wastewater treatment plants, livestock farms, food production facilities, and organic waste management operations.

The Florida project is located at the New River Solid Waste Association (NRSWA) municipal solid waste landfill in Raiford, in northern Florida southwest of Jacksonville. OPAL Fuels said the RNG, which will be used as transportation fuel, will be distributed at the company’s fueling stations across the Peoples Gas distribution system in the state.

Peoples Gas is a subsidiary of Canada-based Emera, the parent company of several U.S. power generation companies, including Tampa Electric in Florida.

OPAL officials said the Raiford facility has a capacity of 2,500 standard cubic feet per minute of landfill gas. The company said the facility is expected to produce the equivalent of about 5 million gallons of gasoline annually. It said use of the fuel will result in significant reductions in Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions from vehicles using RNG.

“Through our vertical integration model, from production through distribution, OPAL Fuels is committed to providing our customers with cost-effective, reliable transportation fuel that results in zero Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions,” said Adam Comora, co-CEO of OPAL Fuels, in a statement. “Working together with NRSWA, this facility produces new revenue streams, new jobs for the county, and provides cost savings for our customers.”

“This is the first project in Florida to convert gas from a municipal solid waste landfill to RNG and we are happy we have been able to lead the way,” said Perry Kent, executive director of NRSWA. “This project is one more step toward New River becoming a fully sustainable solid waste treatment facility.”

The NRSWA municipal solid waste landfill is a publicly owned facility. The site was formed as an association of Bradford, Baker, and Union counties in Florida. The site also accepts contracted waste from outside its three-county area.

South Dakota Projects

UGIES is financing the projects in South Dakota. The second and third cluster projects, known as Brookings and Lakeside, respectively, are being developed at sites near Estelline (three farms) and Summit (two farms).

The Brookings site is expected to generate about 300 million cubic feet of RNG annually, while Lakeside is expected to produce about 225 million cubic feet of RNG each year. The gas will be produced by anaerobically digesting waste from dairy farms, with the biogas piped to a gas upgrading facility before being delivered into the local natural gas distribution system.

“This project sets a new standard for UGI in terms of scope and size and represents a key milestone in UGI’s investments in RNG projects,” said Robert F. Beard, chief operations officer for UGI. “We are pleased to be partnering with industry-leading developers on this project that will substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions, using dairy RNG as a vehicle fuel. In May of 2022, UGI committed over $70 million of investment to fund the Moody cluster of three dairies. The Moody cluster is now well into construction and anticipated to be online in late 2023. We look forward to making additional investments in our MBL partnership as we advance the use of RNG as an environmentally responsible and clean energy solution.”

MBL Bioenergy is a joint venture partnership among UGIES, Sevana Bioenergy and a subsidiary of California Bioenergy (CalBio).

“This expansion of our partnership with UGI is another important step forward in expanding our carbon-negative renewable natural gas business,” said N. Ross Buckenham, CEO of CalBio, headquartered in Visalia, California. “Our dairy methane capture and refining projects are delivering significant environmental benefits, improving economics for dairy farm partners and supplying a clean burning diesel replacement fuel.”

Steve Compton, president of Idaho-based Sevana Bioenergy, said, “Sevana values this commitment to expand our partnership and engage South Dakota dairy farmers and communities to benefit the local economy and environment. We are excited to build a value chain of strong relationships to decarbonize transportation fuels and significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Sevana’s team of biogas experts is deploying state-of-the-art renewable energy technology across multiple RNG projects in agricultural communities.”

UGI through its subsidiaries operates natural gas and electric utilities in Pennsylvania, natural gas utilities in West Virginia, and distributes liquefied petroleum gas both domestically (through AmeriGas) and internationally (through UGI International). The company also manages midstream energy assets in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia, and power generation assets in Pennsylvania.

Darrell Proctor is a senior associate editor for POWER (@POWERmagazine).

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