U.S., Canadian and French natural gas operators at an alternative fuels summit in Montreal earlier this month shared their visions to expand renewable natural gas (RNG) use in North America and in Europe, particularly in heavy-duty transportation.

Companies represented at the conference included Energir, which serves Canadian markets, along with utilities GRDF and GRTgaz, each based in France, and Sempra Energy's Los Angeles-based Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas).

Energir CEO Sophie Brochu, who oversees gas distribution operations in Quebec, moderated a panel regarding the growing role for RNG, technology advances in the alternative fuels and the potential for reducing emissions in the natural gas vehicle (NGV) transportation Sector.

"It's time to move from deliberation to action, and now more than ever, RNG has a role to play in the energy transition," said Brochu. She pledged to capitalize on her partners' experience and "accelerate the development" of the RNG sector in Quebec.

Earlier this month, a consortium of more than 20 Canadian NGV industry and government participants issued Natural Gas Use in the Medium and Heavy-Duty Transportation Sector - Roadmap 2.0, which among other things, discussed innovations in RNG technology and the benefits to the transportation sector.

Senior executives at the French utilities indicated they are seeking to develop more "solutions" that involve low-carbon and the circular, or sustainable, economy that minimizes waste.

"We joined these efforts to speed up the development of RNG and bioNGVs," said GRDF CEO Edouard Sauvage. GRTgaz Deputy CEO Pierre Duvieusart said the collaboration is creating environmental and economic advantages.

"It is this combination of environmental advantage and economic/operational performance that now allows [market players] to move ahead and explains this take-off of gas mobility," said Duvieusart.

The French gas utility executives, representing the separate distribution and transmission portions of what was formerly Gaz de France, underscored the summit theme, "Solutions for Multi-modal Ecosystems" examining decarbonization and air quality in everything from urban transit to the circular economy.

SoCalGas CEO Maryam Brown said the cooperative approach among the utilities is needed to find concrete ways to cut emissions and minimize waste.

"That is why SoCalGas is committed to replacing 20% of our traditional natural gas supply with RNG by 2030,” Brown said.

Energir and CAT Inc. also unveiled a joint effort to launch Quebec's first Class 8 RNG-fueled freight trucks. CAT, Energir's first RNG customer, is a trans-international border carrier with a 110 vehicle fleet that is switching from diesel to NGVs.