1. What is biomethane?
Biomethane, also known as renewable natural gas (RNG), is purified or upgraded biogas. Biogas is made from the decomposition of organic material. This organic material can be any biological material (firewood, etc.), but it has an additional benefit when coming from waste material, i.e. food and yard waste, livestock manure, wastewater treatment plants, and landfill gas. When these waste materials decompose naturally, they produce biogas, releasing methane and carbon dioxide—the two most prevalent greenhouse gasses—into the atmosphere. Alternatively, these waste materials can be captured and processed by anaerobic digestion, where microorganisms break down the organic matter to create methane-rich biogas. The biogas is then cleaned and upgraded until it is interchangeable with fossil gas. This process not only captures the methane and carbon that would otherwise be emitted into the atmosphere, but the resulting gas may then be used as a reliable source of energy, and offers customers an important renewable option to address their carbon footprint.
2. Why CRS?
Center for Resource Solutions is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to advancing sustainable energy through policy and market solutions. It was founded in 1997 to grow the then-nascent renewable energy market by providing expert assistance and promoting renewable energy through policy development, education, and building markets. We work to develop standards and verification methodologies for environmental commodities that are crucial to the growth of retail markets for environmentally preferable products.
Over the years, the organization has grown in both its domestic and international scope, and today is the leading independent certifier of renewable electricity products in North America. It supports implementation and advancement of renewable energy policy and markets, convenes thought leaders, and promotes increasing renewable energy development and use. CRS, with oversight by the independent Green-e Governance Board, maintains the stakeholder-driven standard-development and -update process. Through the Green-e certification programs, CRS provides consumer protection and independent, third-party verification for transactions in the voluntary renewable energy market.
Along with industry-leading certification programs for buyers and sellers of renewable energy and strong policy and educational programs, CRS also works with local, state, and national governments, other NGOs, national labs and think tanks, and industry stakeholders to provide guidance and leadership to all sectors of the energy industry interested in growing the renewables marketplace.
3. Why Is a Standard Needed?
Biomethane is increasingly becoming a solution for commercial and residential customers who want an effective way to address the greenhouse gas impacts of their natural gas use, and offers a pathway to accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy. However, buyers and sellers currently contract for energy with little to no oversight of the associated environmental attributes. Deals are made through supply contracts, with no verification that the renewable attributes of the fuel are delivered. There are no standards or rules in place to ensure voluntary purchasers are making high-quality, verified purchases of renewable fuels outside the transportation market that include the environmental benefits.
Green-e® Energy’s consumer protection and product disclosure rules, in addition to its environmental criteria, will help consumers understand their options and make informed choices, increasing trust and stability in the renewable energy market, leading to more ongoing market demand assurances for projects and more investor confidence.
4. What Are the Roles of the Advisory Group and Working Group?
CRS has convened a Working Group and an Advisory Group to provide environmental, technical, and market input prior to the opening of public stakeholder consultation on the new proposed Standard.
The Advisory Group is comprised of environmental nonprofit organizations, Green-e® Governance Board members, academic experts, and industry stakeholders that will advise us in the development of best practices throughout this process.
The Working Group are the funders that are helping to advance clean energy development and the availability of environmental commodities, while ensuring market integrity. Without this assistance, our work would not be possible.
The Working Group is comprised of:
- 3 Degrees
- Bloom Energy
- Element Markets
- First Environment
- Mas Energy
- Vermont Gas
- Waste Management
5. What Is the Purpose of the Standard?
The objective of the Standard and certification program is to accelerate the adoption of biomethane, while ensuring that the gas is from sustainable renewable resources, meets the highest environmental standards, and that customers are protected in their purchase and ability to make verifiable usage claims.
The ultimate goal is to develop and standardize best practices in the biomethane market, provide market demand for environmentally preferable sources, and to make the voluntary market for biomethane purchasing more trustworthy and stable for future investment.
6. Who Is the Standard For?
The Standard will address the production, sale, and use of renewable energy for non-electricity end uses in the voluntary market. It will be available to buyers or sellers of renewable fuels products, including large consumers purchasing renewable fuels products directly from a producer. Sellers will use the Standard to guide the creation of renewable fuels and thermal product offerings and to support marketing claims related to biomethane use.
7. What Does the Standard Development Process Look Like?
Green-e® Energy’s general standard-setting process is available online at www.green-e.org/about/standard-setting. Development of the Green-e® Renewable Fuels Standard will follow this process, and details on how to comment will be posted on the same page during stakeholder comment periods.
8. What Are The Next Steps In This Process?
1. Drafting a new industry standard for biogas transactions. CRS will create the first draft standard in consultation with the advisory group. This standard will define the environmental and consumer protection requirements needed to verify the delivery and sale of renewable fuels through CRS’s Green-e certification.
2. Conducting a public stakeholder comment period. CRS will release the initial draft for a 60-day public comment period to various public stakeholders. Stakeholders will be notified by CRS and are encouraged to circulate the information to any other interested parties for comment. Any interested stakeholder is welcome to comment. Once the 60-day comment period concludes, CRS will collect all comments and present standard revisions for review by the Green-e Governance Board. The advisory group, and/or other industry experts will be consulted depending on the types of issues raised during the public consultations. CRS may conduct other public stakeholder comment periods if necessary.
3. Consulting with the Green-e Governance Board to finalize and adopt the standard. Green-e program rules require that any new standard be approved by the independent Green-e Governance Board. The Board requires presentation of the new standard before reaching a final version, which will be placed before the Board for approval.
9. What Types of Renewable Fuels Are You Considering?
We have just started a process that should result in a new Green-e Standard and certification program for renewable fuels, set to launch in mid 2020. The objective is to develop an industry-wide consensus Standard for the voluntary market that is similar in impact to the Green-e Standard for electricity in North America. At this point, our focus is on biomethane, but in the future CRS will consider expansion of the program to address other renewable fuels and renewable thermal energy products, including solar thermal, geothermal, and hydrogen, among others. At this point, it is too early in the process to predict which methodologies or supply types will be eligible for certification, but given the process noted in our public comments on the process, there will be ample notification and time to submit responses related to at least two draft versions of the Standard.
10. What Types of Biomethane Will Be Eligible?
The development process will determine certain eligibility criteria for biomethane, which will consider different project types (e.g. landfill, wastewater treatment, food and green waste diversion, animal agriculture, etc.), feedstock types, and other issues including vintage, tracking systems, energy attribute certificates (EACs), and physical interconnection.
11. What Is the Justification For This Type of Product?
Current scientific and policy approaches agree the best path forward to achieve long-term global climate goals and energy-related emissions reductions is through deep electrification powered by renewable energy. However, the ease and duration of the transition to a decarbonized energy economy will differ for every country based on various economic, political, and systemic barriers. The U.S., for example, has built its economy around access to abundant and inexpensive energy sources that serve hundreds of millions of people. The natural gas industry, which accounts for the largest share of U.S. energy production, is deeply intertwined in the U.S. economic and political system—billions of dollars are invested annually on natural gas infrastructure, including more than 3 million miles of natural gas pipelines that serve 75 million customers. Biomethane is a renewable substitute for natural gas that can use that same infrastructure while adding ancillary benefits, such as capturing fugitive emissions from waste and diverting organic material from landfills.
The goal of this standard is to accelerate the substitution of renewable fuels for fossil fuels to expedite the transition to sustainable energy. Use of biomethane can be complementary to electrification as a climate strategy, and offers a near-term interim solution for consumers to reduce their environmental impact.
12. Where Can I Learn More?
Please visit our Green-e® Renewable Fuels website and sign up for email notifications to stay up to date on any program milestones and be notified of the public stakeholder comment periods. If you have any questions, you can email email@example.com or contact:
Director, Technical Projects