The Year of Methane: Archaea, Energir, CNG expand, the methtrend becomes clearer

August 18, 2022 |

Here in Digestville we have dubbed 2022 the Year of Methane as companies seeking sufficient feedstock to meet net zero goals are turning to methane as a fuel, and as a transportable, affordable intermediate to facilitate the conversion of affordable stocks of solid biomass into liquid fuels and power.

The methane momentum can be seen all over the globe this year. Today we will focus in on the doubling of bio-CNG transport in the UK and an expanded agreement to produce and deliver RNG into Canada. The companies are CNG Fuels, Archaea and Energir.

From the UK comes news that demand for low-carbon CNG has doubled across the country, and EU sector leader CNG Fuels has opened its tenth low-carbon heavy goods vehicle refuelling station — in Castleford, in West Yorkshire. Demand is driven not by increasing mileage but by the number of bio-CNG vehicles, which has doubled in the last year, according to CNG Fuels

The new station means that CNG Fuels can now refuel 5000 HGVs across the UK daily, saving up to 1,600 tonnes of CO2 every day, or 584,000 tonnes of CO2 annually when compared to diesel – equivalent to powering over 113,000 homes for an entire year.

New adopters

In related news, Aldi, the UK’s fifth-largest supermarket, is the latest major brand to adopt bio-CNG HGVs and is among many other household brands, including Royal Mail, Waitrose, and Warburtons to use CNG Fuels’ newest site.

The new site

The Castleford site can refuel up to 500 HGVs per day, cutting 67,500 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually when fully utilized – equivalent to the annual emissions of over 40,000 cars. Most of the UK is already within a 300-mile round trip of a CNG Fuels renewable biomethane refuelling station and the site will put Leeds, Hull, and Wakefield within its range, serving local and passing fleets.

CNG’s prospects

The company plans to have 20 large public access stations in operation by the end of 2023, with sites in Newton Aycliffe and Corby entering the construction phase at the end of July 2022.

The HGV low-carbon imperative

HGVs account for 4.2% of UK carbon emissions, putting the sector at the core of the UK’s goal of achieving net zero by 2050. Last year, the UK government set out plans to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel HGV from 2040, heightening the urgency for fleets across the country to find alternative solutions to petrol and diesel HGVs.

Hydrogen trials

Last year the company announced plans to host hydrogen fuel trials across its sites to ensure stations are ready to support a multi-fuel future as different technologies develop and become commercially viable. The first hydrogen trails are due to begin this year and by 2025, CNG Fuels plans to allocate 100 acres of its land to public access hydrogen refueling

Reaction from the stakeholders

CNG Fuels CEO Philip Fjeld said:Fleet operators around the world are urgently seeking ways to cut emissions from their fleets. In the UK, fleet operators can do so today by adopting biomethane. Our fast-growing network of refuelling infrastructure has made biomethane more accessible than ever before, and fleets – ranging from local hauliers through to major household brands – are dramatically cutting emissions every day. Our newest station in Castleford is building on our existing network, enabling low carbon deliveries all the way from Inverness to Cornwall.”

Over in Canada, Archaea expands

In Texas, Archaea Energy is expanding its commercial partnership with Énergir with a long-term commercial agreement. Énergir is the largest natural gas distribution company in Quebec.

Under the agreement, Énergir expects to purchase 2.15 million gigajoules (approximately 2.04 million MMBtu) of RNG generated by Archaea annually from its portfolio of RNG production facilities for a fixed fee for a period of 20 years. Subject to regulatory approval, the agreement is expected to commence in October 2023. The RNG produced by Archaea for this expanded long-term partnership is expected to be a key contributor towards Énergir’s interim target of delivering 2% of its total annual natural gas volumes using RNG by 2023, with a longer-term target of 5% by 2025.

Reaction from the stakeholders

“We are excited to extend and expand our multi-decade partnership with Énergir as a result of this second long-term agreement,” said Brian McCarthy, Archaea’s Co-founder, Chief Investment Officer, and Interim Chief Financial Officer. “The team at Énergir has been tremendous to work with, and from the top down the organization is focused on executing on its mission of decarbonization. We continue to see natural gas utilities, such as Énergir, as first-movers in the voluntary RNG market who are looking to RNG as a primary method of decarbonization in response to regulatory and existential mandates. We are proud to be one of the few RNG producers capable of offering tailored long-term, fixed-price agreements that can scale with the growing demands of our customers, thereby giving our RNG can a growing impact as a sustainable, multi-decade decarbonization solution. This growth will be enabled by our extensive, high-quality RNG development backlog, including projects related to our Lightning Renewables joint venture with Republic Services and the acquisition of INGENCO, which successfully closed in July 2022.”

“We are thrilled to pursue our relationship with Archaea, a proven RNG producer with an innovative-driven approach,” said Renault-François Lortie, Vice President, Customers and Gas Supply at Energir. “If this agreement is approved by our regulatory authority, it will represent an important addition to our RNG supplies target. It will inevitably strengthen the development of the RNG industry in Quebec, as it will allow a greater number of customers who are concerned about reducing their carbon footprint to benefit from renewable energy at a competitive cost. Once materialized, these additional volumes in our network will help meet our goal of distributing 5% RNG by 2025 and at least 10% by 2030 and therefore, contribute greatly the reduction of Quebec’s GHG emissions.”


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