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Renewable Natural Gas Incentives and Policies for Pipeline Injection

Renewable Natural Gas Incentives and Policies for Pipeline Injection

Renewable natural gas incentives can help offset pipeline interconnection costs

A change in policy that can help RNG project developers overcome some of the common challenges faced when new projects are being developed is the introduction of incentives for pipeline interconnection together with clear quality guidelines required for biogas that will be injected into a natural gas pipeline. Renewable natural gas incentives applicable for pipeline interconnection can help RNG project developers to offset some of the upfront costs associated with developing a new RNG project.

Established quality guidelines, that are also relatively flexible, allow RNG project developers to design an efficient biogas treatment system according to how much the biogas needs to be improved and upgraded to meet the required specifications outlined in the quality standard. A few examples of biogas incentives and quality specifications for pipeline injection are outlined below.

Renewable Natural Gas Incentives and Policies in California

The California Senate Bill 1383 instructed CARB to regulate methane emissions in order to meet the targeted 40% reduction in methane reductions by 2030 compared to levels recorded in 2013. Considering the dairy industry is a key contributor to methane emissions in California, the bill directed California-based gas corporations to implement a minimum of five dairy-based biogas projects (across the state) to produce RNG for pipeline injection, allowing for reasonable pipeline infrastructure costs to be recovered in the rates.

The California biomethane interconnection incentive program has allocated 40 million dollars for offsetting pipeline interconnection costs up until the end of 2021. This RNG incentive program offers to cover 50% of eligible biogas collection and pipeline interconnection costs (maximum of 5 million dollars per project) for cluster dairy projects consisting of at least three biogas projects, and 50% of eligible pipeline interconnection costs (maximum of 3 million dollars per project) for non-diary RNG projects, including RNG collected at landfill gas projects, wastewater treatment facilities, stand-alone organic waste biodigesters and non-cluster dairy RNG projects where RNG is collected from just one or two biodigesters.

Renewable Natural Gas Incentives and Policies in Washington

In March 2018, Washington introduced House Bill 2580 to promote the use of renewable natural gas. This is essentially a voluntary program that provides incentives such as tax relief and tools to help calculate potential RNG supply together with the associated costs, in order to encourage an increase in RNG production. The Bill also encouraged the relevant regulatory authorities and state agencies to develop voluntary RNG quality specifications for injection into a natural gas pipeline, together with policy recommendations that promote the development of RNG projects.

A collaborative study conducted by the Washington State Department of Commerce and Washington State University's Energy Program (a LMOP State Partner) to promote RNG in Washington State, provided a list of RNG project development opportunities as well as information on policies and economics pertaining to RNG project development in Washington state, was presented as a report to the Washington State Legislature in December 2018.

Guidelines for RNG Pipeline Injection in the Northeastern States

In 2019, the Northeast Gas Association and the Gas Technology Institute published a set of guidelines for injecting RNG into a natural gas pipeline in the Northeastern States. The guide aims to break down barriers that have previously made RNG less acceptable to natural gas distribution networks, mainly due to inconsistent evaluation criteria, for example, evaluation of trace contaminant levels. These guidelines aim to improve acceptance of RNG as a valuable source of renewable energy, by reducing the technical uncertainty, while at the same time outlining and quantifying the potential risks, without compromising facility integrity or posing a public safety risk.

These guidelines include useful tools such as checklists, a process flow diagram, plans for biogas contaminant sampling, a sample of a pipeline interconnection agreement, and a technical reference list. It also addresses some of the current RNG injection challenges by:

  • Providing a consistent approach to assess the viability of an RNG project.
  • Defining requirements to prevent service interruption.
  • Providing standardized procedures to optimize RNG design and reduce uncertainty.
  • Outlining structures to be followed during the RNG project development process.
  • Identifies the roles and responsibilities of the relevant parties involved in RNG project development.
Image by David Mark from Pixabay
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