Commercial options in Canada to buy renewable natural gas (RNG), biodiesel and hydrogen are continuing to emerge, as suppliers find markets for lower-carbon products.

Canada Emissions

A C$600 million ($480 million) commitment to expand biodiesel in British Columbia (BC) by Parkland Corp. inspired Premier John Horgan to call the province “a clean energy powerhouse.”

Calgary-based Parkland, a gasoline and convenience retailer, set a tentative date of 2026 to increase biodiesel output to 6,500 b/d at its refinery in the Burnaby suburb of Vancouver.

BC Energy Minister Bruce Ralston credited the project to the provincial low carbon fuel standard, a 10 year-old regulation that sets greenhouse gas reduction goals and rewards suppliers that achieve them.

Parkland said it has earned nearly C$400 million ($320 million) in BC emissions reduction credits with trial runs for the biodiesel. That’s said to be enough to cover 40% of costs for the planned project.

“Renewable fuels play a critical role in Canada’s climate ambitions by enabling customers to reduce their carbon footprint using their existing vehicle,” Parkland President Bob Espey said.

RNG is also maturing toward industrial scale in BC.

RNG Market Growing

After 11 years of test marketing and provincial regulatory adjustments, RNG distributor FortisBC has set growth goals in an annual climate action performance review.

The BC Utilities Commission in the past two years has approved RNG supply deals with 25 municipal and agricultural waste disposal, as well as methane extraction sites. Annual RNG sales are forecast to reach about 3.7 Bcf by the end of this year, according to FortisBC.

By 2025, FortisBC’s Clean Growth Pathway aims to increase RNG supply six-fold to about 22.8 Bcf/year, or about 11% of sales. The accelerating fuel substitution campaign is aiming to hit or exceed 15% as of 2030.

The program “supports efficient and attainable climate action that leads to real carbon reduction,” said FortisBC sustainability director Jennifer Robertson. To date, “Our continued success shows it’s working.”

Other Canadian RNG trials also are expanding.

Waste processor StormFisher Environmental and building contractor Modern Niagara Group launched an RNG sales drive from an Ontario plant in London owned by San Francisco-based Generate Capital.

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“In 2022 alone, we are committed to reducing our carbon footprint from the energy consumption of our buildings in Ontario by 30 percent,” said Modern Niagara COO Chris Hill.

“This partnership will allow us to offer an effective greenhouse gas reduction solution to our clients,” said Hill. 

The deal creates access to RNG extracted from more than 100,000 tons/year of waste handled by the London plant.

Don’t Forget About Hydrogen

Hydrogen, the latest addition to the roster of lower-carbon fuels, also is working to prove itself as a commercial development candidate.

Rockpoint Gas Storage, Certarus Ltd., Plug Power Inc. and FortisBC are collaborating on a hydrogen pilot project at an industry site in southeastern Alberta. The test is set to launch this fall.

Rockpoint agreed to test Plug Power’s hydrogen production as fuel in ground surface machinery for the Suffield storage facility at its natural gas AECO Hub. Certarus would provide deliveries, and FortisBC would be the supply procurement agent.

“To move the energy transition forward we must take bold steps to produce, transport, store and use hydrogen for commercialization,” said Rockpoint Vice President Sheri Doell.

Additional Canadian development of alternative fuel and petrochemical product lines is gestating in planning stages at industrial corporations.

Among them is Calgary’s Inter Pipeline Ltd., which is partnering on a feasibility study with Japan’s Itochu Corp. and Malaysian-owned Petronas Energy Canada Ltd. They are considering two Alberta plants that would produce world-scale methanol and ammonia with a lower carbon footprint.

The products would be made using natural gas-fired generation rather than electricity from zero-carbon dams, wind turbines or solar panels. Emissions would be stowed underground by carbon capture and storage facilities, said the companies.

A tentative schedule calls for production as early as 2027. 

“These facilities would be at the forefront of diversifying Canada’s abundant supply of raw resources by converting them to value-added energy transition products to supply growing global markets with low- or no-carbon fuel and energy products,” said Inter Pipeline President Brian Baker.