A French Canadian pair of environmental technology firms has stepped forward as pioneers of investor-owned, for-profit production of renewable natural gas (RNG) from residential, agricultural and industrial rubbish.
Xebec Adsorption Inc. and Bahler Biogas Inc. announced a C$28 million ($21 million) plan for annual Quebec output of 150 MMcf of gas and 7,500 tons of fertilizer from 45,000 tons of organic waste.
The plan adds a business dimension to a field dominated to date by municipal government waste disposal networks. Production is scheduled to begin in 2021.
Xebec and Bahler describe their project as a contribution to a provincial goal of a “circular economy” that makes essentials and cleans up the natural environment by replacing resource extraction with waste scavenging and recycling.
The project responds to a Quebec regulation enacted last year, requiring RNG use to grow to 5% of provincial supply by 2025. The consumption target is part of an energy policy that includes a politically popular Quebec ban against shale gas fracking.
Studies by Montreal-based, international distribution firm Energir and three consulting houses — Deloitte LLP, WSP Canada Inc. and Aviseo — predict Quebec organic gas flows could hit 144 MMcf/d as of 2030.
The green gas would be expensive by the low-cost standards of current Quebec supplies imported from western Canada and the nearby Marcellus and Utica shale formations in the Appalachian region of the United States.
The Quebec RNG supply projections rely on a sustained, supportive price of C$15 per gigajoule ($11.25/MMBtu). But the forecast does not assess RNG economics by comparing organic and fossil fuel gas. The competition yardstick is the consumer cost of electricity from the provincial government-owned power company, Hydro Quebec.
Quebec also offers RNG subsidies. Xebec and Bahler say they have applied for help from a government program known as PTMOBC, short for Programme de Traitement des Matières Organiques par Biométhanisation et Compostage.
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