U.S. Department of Energy - Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
Advanced Manufacturing Office – Industrial Distributed Energy
Northern California Utility Draws on Renewable Natural Gas
April 2, 2008
Burning natural gas is not normally seen as a use of renewable energy,
but a project underway in northern California is adding a renewable
dimension to this traditional fossil fuel. In early March, Pacific Gas
and Electric Company (PG&E) began injecting biogas from manure into
its natural gas pipeline in Fresno County. The 5,000-cow Vintage
Dairy, located near the town of Riverdale, is flushing the manure from
its cows into a covered lagoon that is more than three stories deep, with
an area of nearly five football fields. Microbes in the oxygen-free
environment of the lagoon convert the manure to methane through a
process called anaerobic digestion. Methane from the lagoon is
scrubbed and pressurized by BioEnergy Solutions and then injected into
the PG&E pipeline. Under a long-term contract, BioEnergy Solutions
plans to deliver up to 3 billion cubic feet of renewable natural gas
to PG&E each year. PG&E is also investigating its own methods of
generating biogas. See the PG&E press release
and the BioEnergy Solutions Web site.
The Huckabay Ridge facility began full commercial production of pipeline-quality biogas in January.
Credit: Environmental Power Corp.
PG&E will soon be increasing its supply of renewable natural gas,
according to Environmental Power Corp. (EPC). EPC is using
anaerobic digestion to create renewable natural gas from manure and
agricultural wastes at its Huckabay Ridge facility in Stephenville,
Texas. The facility began full commercial operation in January and is
expected to produce 635 billion Btu of natural gas per year, which is
equal to about 616 million cubic feet. The natural gas is currently being delivered to the
Lower Colorado River Authority, but as of October, it will be
delivered to PG&E under a 10-year contract. See the EPC press releases on reaching commercial operation
and on the PG&E contract.
While natural gas pipelines in the West are starting to carry a small
amount of biogas, a proposed new pipeline in the Midwest would carry
ethanol. Two petroleum pipeline companies are looking into a dedicated
pipeline to carry ethanol from the Midwest to distribution centers in
Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. Magellan Midstream Partners, L.P.
and Buckeye Partners, L.P. are teaming up to assess the pipeline,
which could transport more than 10 million gallons of ethanol per day.
See the Magellan press release and a map of the proposed pipeline (PDF 305 KB).
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