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BAC Comments on the CPUC’s Biomethane Procurement Proposal

BAC submitted comments on the CPUC’s Staff Proposal on Biomethane Procurement.  The Staff Proposal recommends requiring California’s gas utilities to procure 75 billion cubic feet of biomethane annually by 2030.  That only represents 4 percent of California’s total gas use.  By comparison, state law requires that 60 percent of California’s electricity come from renewable resources by 2030.  In comments on the Staff Proposal, BAC urges the Commission to:

  • Increase the biomethane procurement target to 150 BCF to help meet the state’s climate, clean energy, waste and wildfire reduction goals.
  • Include all eligible organic waste feedstocks.
  • Base program prices on the carbon intensity of the biomethane to prioritize the lowest carbon sources that help reduce climate super pollutants (Short-Lived Climate Pollutants).
  • Offer additional incentives to maximize the carbon reductions and other benefits of the program

To read BAC’s detailed comments, see R.13-02-008 BAC Comments on Phase 4A Staff Proposal

CA Natural Gas Trucks Now Carbon Negative

Cummins Westport has just announced that natural gas vehicles in California have gone carbon negative!!  Natural gas vehicles are increasingly powered by renewable natural gas (RNG) generated from organic waste.  In 2020, those vehicles removed more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than they emitted — the direct result of the increasing use of RNG.  RNG use is up more than 170% in the past five years, according to new data from California’s Air Resources Board (CARB), while the carbon intensity of natural gas derived from renewable sources continues to drop. RNG is increasingly made using methane captured from dairy and agricultural waste, landfills and wastewater treatment plants. By capturing gases that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere, RNG can provide carbon negative emissions that are critical to achieve carbon neutrality.

Ninety-two percent of all on-road fuel used in natural gas vehicles in California last year was renewable natural gas and much of that RNG was carbon negative.

In addition to their negative greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, ultra-low NOx natural gas engines perform at levels that are 95 percent below the federal nitrogen oxide (NOx) standard and 98 percent below the federal particulate matter (PM 2.5) standard.   These are enormous benefits for public health as they reduce smog-forming pollution and toxic air contaminants that cause respiratory illnesses, cancer and other health impacts.

According to NGVAmerica, RNG used as a motor fuel in California in 2020 displaced 1.83 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e). To put those numbers into perspective, California RNG motor fuel use:

  • lowered greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent amount generated by driving the average passenger car 4.6 billion miles
  • eliminated CO2 emissions, equal to 205.7 million gallons of gasoline consumed, or the energy use of 220,118 California homes in one year
  • sequestered the amount of carbon captured by 2.24 million acres of U.S. forests in one year

To learn more about ultra-low NOx trucks and RNG visit:  Cummins Westport

Bioenergy Critical to Climate

Bioenergy is critical to slow global warming right away and to reach carbon neutrality by mid-century.  That’s because bioenergy can reduce the most damaging climate pollutants known as Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (SLCPs).  Climate scientists agree that we have less than a decade left to avert catastrophic – and largely irreversible – climate change.  The most effective tool we have – the last lever we have left – is to reduce SLCP emissions.  And bioenergy can do that more effectively than other tools because it cuts methane and black carbon emissions – two of the most damaging SLCPs – from organic waste, including landfills and dairies, agricultural waste, and forest waste or other vegetation removed to reduce wildfire risks.  Bioenergy can also provide carbon negative emissions needed to reach carbon neutrality by mid-century.  And, according to the California Air Resources Board, it provides the most cost-effective of all carbon emissions.

Read more about Bioenergy and Climate

Princeton Study Highlights Need for Bioenergy, Renewable Hydrogen

Princeton University has released a groundbreaking study on how the United States can achieve carbon neutrality.  The study finds that bioenergy – especially biomass with carbon capture and storage – and renewable hydrogen will be critical to achieve carbon neutrality.  The study’s main conclusions related to bioenergy are:

  • Biomass plays an especially important role in achieving carbon neutrality because i) it removes CO2  from the atmosphere as it grows and so combustion of hydrocarbon fuels made with biomass carbon results in no net CO2 emissions to the atmosphere, ii) it can be converted into H2  while capturing and permanently sequestering its carbon, resulting in a net negative-emissions fuel, and iii) it can similarly be used to make negative-emissions electricity.
  • Starting in the 2030s, H2  from biomass with capture of CO2  that is permanently sequestered is a highly cost-competitive technology option because of the  high value of the  associated negative emissions; negative-emissions bio electricity is less valued because of abundant low cost of solar and wind electricity.
  • Hydrogen is a key carbon-free intermediate or final fuel.

You can download the full study here.  The Bioenergy chapter begins on slide 200.

SoCalGas Announces Zero-Carbon Goal by 2045

SoCalGas has set a goal to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in its operations and energy deliveries by 2045.  The utility’s commitment makes it the largest North American gas distribution utility to set a net-zero target that includes the company’s direct emissions and those generated by its customers. The goal is net zero emissions from SoCalGas trucks, buildings, and pipelines, as well as the fuel it delivers to customers.

SoCalGas supports California’s goal of carbon neutrality and the goals of the Paris Climate Accord, while ensuring that energy remain reliable and affordable for all Californians. No energy company is more dedicated to achieving this than SoCalGas.  SoCalGas’ commitment to net zero 2045 is a natural extension of its decades-long industry leadership.  Since the passage of California’s landmark California’s Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32), SoCalGas’ decarbonization, diversification, and digitalization efforts have supported the reduction of over 7 million metric tons of CO2e below our 1990 levels – the equivalent of removing 1.5 million cars from the road for a year.

Read about SoCalGas’ Climate Commitment here and its press release announcing the news here.

University of California Signs Major Biogas Purchase Agreement

The University of California has just entered into its fourth major contract to purchase biogas as part of UC’s plan to achieve carbon neutrality.  “UC is leading the state’s transition to carbon neutrality with these long-term investments in renewable electricity and biogas,” said David Phillips, associate vice president of UC’s department of Energy and Sustainability.   The most recent agreement is for biogas from a landfill in San Bernardino County, which would otherwise flare the biogas.  Instead, the biogas will be conditioned and used on UC campuses to provide renewable power, heating, and cooling.  When completed, the new project will provide enough biogas to replace all of the fossil fuel gas used on the UC Santa Barbara campus.

Biogas is also an important part of the UC’s climate resilience strategy as it can provide energy, heating, and cooling for microgrids and essential services during grid shut-downs or power shortages.  In fact, UC Davis was able to provide power to SMUD (Sacramento Municipal Utility District) during a recent heat wave due to the university’s gas power plant.

For more information about UC’s biogas plans, click here.