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Study shows B.C holds a wealth of renewable and low carbon gas potential


March 4, 2022
By FortisBC Energy

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Photo by FortisBC Energy)

A new study has revealed the B.C. gas system could be completely supplied by made-in-B.C. renewable and low carbon sources by 2050.

The joint study commissioned by the Government of British Columbia, FortisBC Energy (FortisBC’s) and BC Bioenergy Network (BCBN) examined the potential production of renewable and low carbon gases using solely B.C. resources by 2030 and 2050, as well as examining overall potential production in Canada and the United States.

If the renewable and low carbon gas industry continues to grow, in both capacity and technological innovation, the province has the potential to produce up to 50 petajoules (PJ) of renewable and low carbon gases annually by 2030 and up to 440 PJ by 2050 – roughly double what currently flows through FortisBC‘s gas infrastructure to British Columbians.

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The study highlights the importance of renewable and low carbon gases to the province’s energy future and meeting the greenhouse gas emission reduction targets of the CleanBC Roadmap.

Renewable Natural Gas sourced from biogas is only one of the renewable and low carbon gases expected to play a role in the province’s energy future. Hydrogen also offers immense opportunity for a lower-carbon B.C. Using B.C.’s renewable electricity and its natural gas reserves with carbon capture technologies could open new opportunities to reduce emissions in B.C. and abroad. The study also noted low carbon gas production from wood waste has significant potential for future supply through more research and development to unlock the resource on a large scale.

“As a utility that also delivers clean hydroelectricity, we’re excited to advance a decarbonized gas system working alongside the electric system to maintain a provincial energy system that meets all of the needs of British Columbians efficiently and affordably,” said Joe Mazza, vice-president, gas supply and resource development at FortisBC.

In 2018, both the Government of British Columbia and FortisBC set a target of 15 per cent of the gas supply being renewable or low carbon by 2030. With the desire for faster and deeper decarbonization, it’s expected that target may grow. The most recent projections from FortisBC show that the company should exceed that number, as the momentum of bringing on new sources of RNG is steadily growing. The company tripled its supply of renewable natural gas (RNG) through 2021 and expects to, at minimum, triple its supply again in 2022. FortisBC’s vision for renewable and low carbon gas is to have roughly 75 per cent of its total gas supply be renewable or low carbon by 2050 to meet the province’s 80 per cent GHG reduction target.

The study also notes an expected growth of renewable and low carbon gases as a whole across North America moving forward. National and international competition for this growing supply is also expected to increase so, while purchasing RNG from the larger market may help meet shorter term supply targets, it is important for the province to develop its domestic capacity.

Renewable and low carbon gases are a key element in reaching the GHG emission reduction goals of the Province’s CleanBC Roadmap, which aims to reduce GHG emissions in the buildings and industry sectors by 47 per cent overall. Following a path that utilizes both gas and electric systems, can reach the same level of GHG emissions reductions as an electrification strategy and meet the province’s emissions reduction targets.

For more details on the study, please click here.