Renewable natural gas (RNG) is an important fuel to help keep our communities clean and healthy. But how is RNG different from two other popular energy sources: conventional natural gas and propane? With so many options available to homeowners, its important to understand how each energy source is different to make well-informed choices.
What is Renewable Natural Gas?
Renewable natural gas is a clean energy source similar to wind or solar energy. Unlike wind or solar energy, however, RNG is available in any weather condition and during any time of the day.
Several waste products can be used to produce RNG such as wastewater, organic plant waste, landfills, and animal manure. Some dairy farms in the United States are contributing their cow manure for the manufacture of RNG. The material is collected and processed to create a methane gas that is trapped. The methane gas is cleaned and conditioned to produce RNG.
In this way, RNG is “carbon neutral.” Left unconverted, all of these wastes would naturally deteriorate and emit methane gas into our atmosphere. By trapping and using the methane, we not only have a clean-burning energy source, but we’ve eliminated the methane from evaporating into the air.
The great thing about RNG is that it can be used interchangeably in lines that typically contain conventional natural gas. That means it’s easy for power companies to supply homes and businesses with renewable natural gas.
So how are conventional natural gas and propane made?
Conventional natural gas and propane are really quite similar. Natural gas is a fossil fuel that forms under the ground, typically in large cracks and spaces between layers of rock. Natural gas is mined in a similar fashion to oil. Propane is a liquefied petroleum gas. It is typically produced as a byproduct of natural gas processing or from crude oil refinement.
Both of these energy sources are clean-burning fuels. While natural gas is less expensive than propane, it takes less propane to create the same amount of energy as conventional natural gas. Suburban homeowners may find it easier to access natural gas as it is piped into neighborhoods, while those living in rural areas may rely on truck shipments of propane to fill their tanks routinely.
But one of these is NOT like the others!
The significant difference between renewable natural gas and conventional natural gas and propane is that the latter two are not renewable. They are fossil fuels that must be extracted from the ground.
How can I get renewable natural gas for my home?
Contact your local natural gas provider to learn more about renewable natural gas in your specific area. Several states have laws requiring natural gas providers to use the cheapest source in their pipelines, which is often conventional natural gas–not RPG. Thanks to environmental advocates, those laws are starting to shift to allow more RNG to be consumed.
Want to learn more about renewable natural gas and other forms of alternative energy?
The Rogue Valley Clean Cities Coalition’s mission is enhancing the livability of the Rogue Valley. We promote and educate on alternate fuels, seek to decrease dependency on petroleum, and promote clean air and water in the Rogue Valley via alternate fuels. Contact us today for more information!