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Province enables increased investments in renewable gas, hydrogen

Province enables increased investments in renewable gas, hydrogen

July 2, 2021 at 10:21 am  BC, News, Politics

The Province has amended the Greenhouse Gas Reduction (Clean Energy) Regulation to increase the production and use of renewable gas as well as green and waste hydrogen in British Columbia, generating jobs and economic opportunities while reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

“A key part of our CleanBC strategy is increasing the use of hydrogen and other renewable gases in place of fossil fuels in vehicles, buildings and industry,” said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation. “The changes we’ve made to the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Regulation will provide natural gas utilities with more flexibility, stimulate investments in renewable energy and accelerate growth of hydrogen and renewable gas supply in their systems, while keeping rates affordable for their customers.”

B.C. is the first province in Canada to make these kinds of changes allowing for the increased production of renewable gas, including hydrogen. The amendments support the Province’s upcoming hydrogen strategy, which will include ambitious goals to increase the production and use of renewable and low-carbon hydrogen to help achieve climate targets under CleanBC and create jobs and opportunities in the clean energy and technology sectors.

“This change is an important step to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from our natural gas system by enabling the expansion of Renewable Natural Gas and clean hydrogen,” said George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. “We’re committed to finding new solutions that significantly cut climate-harming pollution in all sectors and power a clean economy for people and businesses.”

The Greenhouse Gas Reduction Regulation (GGRR) allows utilities like FortisBC Energy Inc. (FortisBC) and Pacific Northern Gas Ltd. to make time-limited investments, within spending and volumetric caps, to stimulate the domestic market for renewable gases and reduce GHG emissions.  

“Changes to the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Regulation are important to accelerate the growth of B.C.’s renewable gas supply,” said Roger Dall’Antonia, president and CEO, FortisBC. “By increasing the renewable gas cap and expanding the regulation to include other renewable gases, such as hydrogen, we’re entering an exciting new phase of renewable energy development that will accelerate the transformation of our natural gas infrastructure into a delivery system for carbon-neutral energy.”

Changes to the GGRR will enable natural gas utilities to increase the amount of Renewable Natural Gas (RNG), green and waste hydrogen, and other renewable energy they can acquire and make available to their customers by:

  • increasing the amount of renewable gas utilities can acquire and supply from 5% to 15% of their total annual supply of natural gas;
  • broadening the methods by which utilities can obtain hydrogen, RNG and other renewable gases to include producing it or upgrading it themselves for injection into the pipeline, paying a third party to produce it or upgrade it for pipeline injection, or purchasing hydrogen, synthesis gas or lignin to displace the use of natural gas at customers’ facilities;
  • allowing the current price cap of $30 per gigajoule that utilities can pay to acquire any of these fuels to increase with inflation; and
  • enabling utilities to acquire and supply green and waste hydrogen, synthesis gas and lignin.

The changes to the GGRR will help to achieve CleanBC objectives, which commit to a 15% renewable gas content in the natural gas system by 2030.  

“Globally, there is a growing demand for biofuels as the world transitions away from fossil fuels, and today’s announcement is a critical step to decarbonizing B.C.’s economy. Investing in biofuel production in B.C. will create local jobs while reducing carbon emissions and waste,” said Karen Tam Wu, B.C. regional director of the Pembina Institute. “To kick start the hydrogen economy, B.C. needs a strategy that leverages our wealth of renewable electricity and advances the production and use of green hydrogen.” 

Quick Facts:

  • Injecting renewable gas into the natural gas system can displace fossil fuels and reduce emissions from homes and businesses.
  • RNG is derived from biogas, which is produced from decomposing organic waste from landfills, forestry, agricultural waste and wastewater from treatment facilities, can be injected into the existing natural gas system and used interchangeably with natural gas.
  • Green hydrogen is produced by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen with clean electricity, such as from hydro or wind power.
  • Waste hydrogen is hydrogen that would be vented into the atmosphere from industrial processes but is instead captured, representing a low-cost, low-carbon-intensity hydrogen supply.
  • Synthesis natural gas (or syngas) and lignin can be produced from biomass and used to displace the use of fossil natural gas for industrial heat applications.

Learn More:

To learn more about B.C.’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction (Clean Energy) Regulation, visit:
https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/industry/electricity-alternative-energy/transportation-energies/clean-transportation-policies-programs/greenhouse-gas-reduction-regulation

To learn more RNG in FortisBC’s system, visit:
https://www.fortisbc.com/services/sustainable-energy-options/renewable-natural-gas

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