Vermont utility owner joins international renewable gas effort

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Vermont utility owner joins international renewable gas effort

Fri, 06/29/2018 - 11:08am -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine Énergir (formerly Gaz Metro), the parent company of Vermont Gas Systems and Green Mountain Power, has joined an international effort to increase use of renewable natural gas. Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas), along with Énergir, a Canadian natural gas utility, and French utilities GRDF and GRTgaz  announced today a new collaboration aimed at advancing the research and development of renewable natural gas and technologies such as power-to-gas. The collaboration will focus on research and development, public policy, and outreach.  For instance, power-to-gas uses otherwise wasted wind and solar power to create renewable (synthetic) natural gas which then supplies the pipeline.

France has adopted a renewable gas standard that calls for renewable natural gas to make up at least 30 percent of natural gas consumption by 2030.   SoCalGas is supporting legislation in California that would require 5 percent of core natural gas consumption in the state to come from renewable sources by 2030.  Énergir has a target to distribute 5 percent of renewable natural gas by 2025 and is working towards efforts to have a fully developed renewable natural gas marketplace by 2020.

The American, French and Canadian utilities share a common goal of advancing policies to combat climate change while providing customers with reliable and affordable energy solutions.  The collaboration will build upon successes each company has earned in achieving policy initiatives and the development and advancement of new technologies.  It will also serve as an opportunity to learn from research and development initiatives currently under development and corresponding regulatory frameworks.

Another key to advancing renewable energy resources is the research and development of long-term energy storage solutions. According to a 2017 Lawrence Berkley National Lab study, by 2025, between 3,300 and 7,800 gigawatt-hours of excess solar and wind energy will be wasted in California alone. SoCalGas is supporting the research and development of technologies that can harness that excess renewable electricity and convert it into energy that can be transported and stored for prolonged periods of time using existing infrastructure to deliver economic benefits to the state's ratepayers.

Last year, for example, SoCalGas announced a first of its kind project in the United States that converts hydrogen generated from excess renewable power into pipeline quality natural gas for use in homes, businesses and in transportation. If all the excess solar and wind energy detailed in the National Labs' study were converted through the biomethanation process and stored as renewable natural gas, it would provide enough renewable energy to heat 158,000 to 370,000 homes or provide renewable electricity to 80,000 to 187,000 homes. 

Énergir is also working on a biomethanation project. The Canadian utility, in partnership with the city of Saint-Hyacinthe, has been delivering renewable natural gas to the pipeline system since December 2017.  Saint-Hyacinthe is the first municipality in Quebec to produce energy through this process.  Another endeavor Énergir and its partners G4 Insights and Greenfield Global are undertaking is the development of a pilot plant to produce renewable natural gas from Canada's abundant supply of forest biomass.

In France, GRTgaz has begun construction on an industrial-scale power-to-gas demonstration project.  Jupiter 1000 will convert surplus electricity generated by wind farms on the Mediterranean coast of southern France into hydrogen and methane syngas.  This will be the first project to inject hydrogen and methane syngas into France's natural gas pipeline system.  When completed, Jupiter 1000 will have a total generating capacity of 1 Megawatt electric (MWe). 

GRDF is working to encourage the injection of renewable natural gas into the distribution network and bring together renewable gas producers. GRDF believes green gas represents the future because it reduces CO₂ emissions and moves towards the goal of carbon neutrality.  Currently, there are 50 active renewable natural gas injection sites in France with an additional 800 projects in progress.  Estimates show that up to 776 GWh/yr of renewable natural gas can be injected into the French natural gas network, which is equivalent to the annual consumption of more than 63,600 households or nearly 3,000 buses.  Last year, 90,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions were avoided in Francethanks to renewable natural gas. 

As part of this collaboration, project results will be shared between the utilities.   The goal is to learn from the potential successes and challenges of the projects and further build on biomethanation and power-to-gas technologies.

Over the course of the next year, representatives from each utility will continue to maintain an open dialogue around these topics, striving for continued development and distribution of renewable gas and the advancement of climate goals.

SoCalGas Vice President of Customer Solutions and Strategy Sharon Tomkinsmade the announcement alongside Énergir Senior Vice President of Development, Communities, Corporate Affairs and Operational Safety Martin Imbleau, Laurent Théry, International and Business Development Director for GRTgaz and Christophe Wagner, International Director for GRDF, during the World Gas Conference in Washington D.C.

"Advances in natural gas technologies have helped clean our air and helped reduce emissions linked to climate change," said Sharon Tomkins, vice president of customer solutions and strategy for SoCalGas.  "We are excited to collaborate with our French and Canadian counterparts to speed up the development of the next generation of innovations including renewable natural gas, solar-powered hydrogen generation, fuel cells, power-to-gas and other technologies. Together the work we're doing today will help provide reliable and affordable natural gas service to millions of families and businesses for decades to come."

"In this energy transition era, we believe renewable natural gas is a powerful tool in the fight against climate change, as well as being a significant contributor to energy self-reliance and the circular economy," said Martin Imbleau, Senior Vice President, Development, Communities, Corporate Affairs and Operational Safety for Énergir. "This collaboration with our partners will allow us to share our progress and results toward our environmental and social objectives."

"The energy transition with renewable gas needs to be advocated to become a reality worldwide," said Laurent Théry, International and Business Development Director for GRTgaz. "Our leading companies in California, Québec and France promote renewable gas in our regions and countries to reach that goal." 

"The development of renewable gas is a real challenge for the energy transition and has a key role to play in the context of the low carbon strategy. The signing of this partnership agreement at the World Gas Conference reflects our shared desire to develop green gas and associated technologies and facilitate its production and injection into natural gas networks," said Christophe Wagner, International Director for GRDF. "This sharing of knowledge and experience at the international level aims to effectively meet the need for anaerobic digestion in line with the ambition we are carrying in France: 30 percent of biomethane injected into the networks in 2030."

About SoCalGas

Headquartered in Los Angeles, SoCalGas® is the largest natural gas distribution utility in the United States, providing clean, safe, affordable and reliable natural gas service to 21.7 million customers in Central and Southern California. Its service territory spans 22,000 square miles from Fresno to the Mexican border, reaching more than 550 communities through 5.9 million meters and 101,000 miles of pipeline. More than 90 percent of Southern California single-family home residents use natural gas for home heat and hot water. In addition, natural gas plays a key role in providing electricity to Californians—about 60 percent of electric power generated in the state comes from gas-fired power plants.  

SoCalGas has served communities in California for 150 years and is committed to being a leader in the region's clean energy future. The company is working to accelerate the use of renewable natural gas, a carbon-neutral or carbon-negative fuel created by capturing and conditioning greenhouse gas emissions from farms, landfills and wastewater treatment plants. SoCalGas is a subsidiary of Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE), a Fortune 500 energy services holding company based in San Diego. For more information visit or connect with SoCalGas on Twitter (@SoCalGas), Instagram(@SoCalGas) and Facebook

About Énergir

With more than $7 billion in assets, Énergir is a diversified energy company whose mission is to meet the energy needs of its 520,000 customers and the communities it serves in an increasingly sustainable way. In Québec, it is the leading natural gas distribution company and also produces, through its subsidiaries, electricity from wind power. In the United States, through its subsidiaries, the company operates in nearly fifteen states, where it produces electricity from hydraulic, wind and solar sources, in addition to being the leading electricity distributor and the sole natural gas distributor in Vermont. Énergir values energy efficiency and invests both resources and efforts in innovative energy projects such as renewable natural gas and liquefied and compressed natural gas. Through its subsidiaries, it also provides a variety of energy services. Énergir hopes to become the partner of choice for those striving toward a better energy future.

Twitter: @Energir_

About GRDF

GRDF is the leading manager of natural gas transmission networks in France. GRDF distributes natural gas each day to more than 11 million customers to ensure that they have gas when they need it, regardless of their supplier. This convenient, affordable, comfortable, and modern source of energy enables people to heat their homes, cook, and get around.

To provide this public service, GRDF builds, operates, and maintains the largest transmission network in Europe (199,781 km) and develops it in more than 9,500 municipalities while ensuring the safety of people and property, as well as high-quality distribution.

Twitter: @grdf

About GRTGaz

GRTgaz is one of the European leaders of natural gas transmission and a world expert of gas transmission networks and systems. In France, GRTgaz owns and operates 32,410 km of buried pipes and 26 compression stations used to ship gas between suppliers and consumers (distributors or industrial companies directly connected to the transmission network). GRTgaz fulfills public service missions to ensure the continuity of supply to consumers and sells transmission services to users of the network. An actor of the energy transition, GRTgaz invests in innovative solutions to adapt its network and reconcile competitiveness with security of supply and preservation of the environment.

Twitter: @GRTgaz

SOURCE WASHINGTON, June 29, 2018 /PRNewswire/ --Southern California Gas Company