RNG heats up with slurry of 2020 deals, big players involved, Chevron, BP, Brightmark, Aemetis, Verbio, Greenlane Renewables

October 11, 2020 |

Brightmark and Chevron just formed a joint venture to own projects across the United States to produce and market dairy biomethane. Greenlane Renewables signed a $5.8 million contract with Brightmark. Construction started in Ohio on a $33 million RNG project. Verbio’s RNG facility slated to be running by fall 2021. A new RNG facility is being constructed in Arizona. Aemetis completed construction on their first two dairy digesters and a four mile RNG pipeline. BP got in on the RNG action with a Tennessee project.

In today’s Digest, why RNG is so hot this year, the latest projects, details on the Chevron and Brightmark deal, and more.


Let’s start with the most recent news from just a few days ago on Brightmark and Chevron’s RNG joint venture.

Where’s the money going? Equity investments by each company in the new venture will fund construction of infrastructure and commercial operation of dairy biomethane projects in multiple states. Chevron will purchase RNG produced from these projects and market the volumes for use in vehicles operating on compressed natural gas. Marathon Capital acted as exclusive financial advisor to Brightmark in establishing the partnership with Chevron.

Reaction from the stakeholders

“Chevron is committed to improving how affordable, reliable, ever-cleaner energy is developed and delivered, investing in companies addressing GHG emissions and progressing lower-carbon technologies,” said Andy Walz, president of Americas Products for Chevron. “We are increasing renewables in support of our business, making targeted investments and establishing partnerships as we evaluate emerging sources of energy and the role they will play in our portfolio. This investment builds on our other RNG initiatives, such as our joint venture with California Bioenergy and our Adopt-a-Port initiative with Clean Energy Fuels. We are excited about the long-standing experience Brightmark has in this area and look forward to working with them and the opportunities ahead.”

“Our mission at Brightmark is to reimagine waste by creating innovative solutions like RNG projects,” said Bob Powell, CEO and founder of Brightmark. “This joint venture is a powerful partnership that will accelerate Brightmark’s ambition to achieve a global net-zero carbon future. It is imperative that Brightmark develop these lifecycle carbon negative projects all over the world, and this is a huge step forward in that process. Our RNG projects also deliver a true ‘win-win’ in terms of driving sustainable agriculture with significantly less waste and improving economic development in rural communities.”

The Brightmark Backstory

If you’ve been a Digest reader for some time, Brightmark may not be new to you. As reported in The Digest in January 2020, Brightmark partnered up with four Florida dairies to build and operate three anaerobic digesters that will convert a total of 230,000 tons of dairy manure per year from 9,900 cows into renewable natural gas. The project includes the construction of new anaerobic digesters at four Larson family dairy farms in Okeechobee County, including two farms owned by Larson Dairy, Inc. and two farms owned by JM Larson, Inc. After the project is complete, the digesters are anticipated to generate about 171,000 MMBtu of renewable natural gas each year. The gas will be delivered into the local interstate gas pipeline system.

And just a month later we reported that Brightmark signed a manure supply agreement with two South Dakota dairy companies, Boadwine Farms, Inc. and Mooody County Dairy Limited Partnership, to capture methane produced by nearly 12,000 dairy cows and heifers and convert it into renewable natural gas. The project is anticipated to produce 217,000 MMBtu of renewable natural gas each year, which is equivalent to the amount of gas needed to drive 2,492 vehicles for a full year. Brightmark is developing the project, and the company will also own and operate it upon completion.

The Chevron Backstory

Chevron is not new to RNG. As reported in The Digest in July, Chevron also teamed up with Clean Energy Fuels on Adopt-a-Port RNG initiative that provides truck operators serving the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach with cleaner, carbon-negative renewable natural gas (RNG) to reduce emissions.

And as reported in June 2019 in The Digest, Chevron partnered up with California BioEnergy and California dairy farmers for renewable compressed natural gas and were to deploy digesters on dairy farms to create renewable compressed natural gas. Under the partnership, Chevron funding will bolster R-CNG infrastructure investments while helping bring the fuel to market in California.

How RNG can help farmers

2020 has been a rough year for many but Brightmark recently released a video for farmers and who have been hit hard by the pandemic on how a digest can add value to their farm. They discuss the current state of business in farming and resources and programs that are available now, including the benefits of Anaerobic Digestion projects for farms and the toolkit needed to get a digester project started. Watch their “Moving Forward in Hard Times” video here.

Greenlane Renewables $5.8 million contract with Brightmark

Also announced within the last few days is that Canada-based Greenlane Renewables Inc.’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Greenlane Biogas North America Ltd., signed an $7.7 million (US$5.8 million) contract for a new renewable natural gas project developed by Brightmark. The multiple-site dairy farm project in the State of Florida will utilize Greenlane’s pressure swing adsorption biogas upgrading systems.

Greenlane will supply biogas upgrading systems to returning customer, Brightmark, for a project generating RNG from dairy farms for injection into the local gas grid.

“This is a showcase project and second contract with Brightmark, one of the leading RNG project developers in the United States,” said Brad Douville, President & CEO of Greenlane. “We’re honored to be a trusted collaborator for this exciting new project in Florida.”

Greenlane’s biogas upgrading systems will be used in Brightmark’s Sobek RNG project in Okeechobee County, Florida, at four Larson family dairy farms.  The project is anticipated to generate 171,000 MMBtu annually of RNG upon completion, which will be injected into the local interstate gas pipeline system. Order fulfilment by Greenlane will start immediately.

“Greenlane’s industry expertise and track record in designing and providing biogas upgrading systems were exactly what we were looking for in a partner as we continue to grow our RNG project portfolio,” said Bob Powell, Founder and CEO of Brightmark. “This helped us de-risk and conclude the project financing, an important step prior to starting construction.”

RNG on fire in 2020

So those are the RNG projects just announced in the last few days, but just look at the past 3 months.

In September, Fortistar and Rumpke Waste & Recycling commenced construction of the Noble Road Landfill RNG Project, a $33 million transportation decarbonization project in Shiloh, Ohio. The project will extract and capture waste methane from the Noble Road landfill in Ohio and transform it into Renewable Natural Gas (RNG). The RNG will be distributed through a key partner, Chesapeake Utilities Corporation affiliate Aspire Energy’s pipelines. The fuel will be dispensed in fueling stations for natural gas vehicles via Trustar Energy, a Fortistar portfolio company.

Also in September, Verbio said it was installing an anaerobic digester at the former DuPont cellulosic ethanol plant it purchased in 2018 to mimic the installations it has at existing facilities in Germany. The add-on will use up to 100,000 tons of corn stover annually to produce the equivalent of 20 million gallons of gasoline, but in the form of renewable natural gas. It will should be online by fall 2021 while the corn ethanol facility itself should be operating by 2022 and will produce a maximum of 12 million gallons per year.

In August, the Digest reported Fortistar and Paloma Dairy began construction on a dairy digester RNG facility, the Sunoma Renewable Biofuel Project. The new facility will produce 1.6 million gasoline gallon equivalents (GGE) of vehicle fuel annually for the Class 8 trucking sector—enough fuel to move 10 million miles of freight.

Also in August, the Digest reported that Aemetis completed construction of the first two dairy digesters and four mile pipeline for the production of RNG to supply below-zero carbon intensity RNG to displace petroleum based natural gas used at the Keyes ethanol production facility, and to provide fuel for RNG trucks and buses.

Republic Services and energy partners Aria Energy and BP also announced the startup of a landfill-gas-to-renewable-natural-gas project at South Shelby Landfill in August, as reported in The Digest. Aria operates the project, processing and purifying biogas from the landfill into RNG. bp will transport the RNG into the interstate natural gas pipeline grid and market it to renewable energy customers. This is Aria and bp’s fourth RNG project at a Republic Services landfill.

Bottom Line

This is only some of the latest RNG news of the past few months but if you look at 2020 as a whole, there are even more projects. We wouldn’t be surprised to see more RNG coming down the pipeline in 2021.

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