One question we get asked a lot is: “How can we get to net zero faster?” Many municipalities are looking for immediate ways to take climate action and meet emissions targets sooner. One of the most effective alternatives in transportation is renewable natural gas (RNG)— a fuel produced from organic waste— that is fully interchangeable with conventional natural gas and thus can be used in natural gas vehicles. It’s a tried and true way to mitigate climate change without sacrificing vehicle fleet performance.
RNG made headlines earlier this year when Ontario’s first carbon-negative bus hit the streets of Hamilton. This groundbreaking bus, launched in partnership with Enbridge Gas, is fuelled by 100 percent RNG produced by the StormFisher facility in London, Ontario. The environmental benefits are impressive: in one year alone, the bus will effectively divert 450 tonnes of organic waste from local landfill, equivalent to the emissions from taking 185 cars off the road for a year.
RNG can be carbon negative and that is an important distinction, as no other fuel—not even electric—can achieve it. As RNG is produced from organic waste, it collects and diverts methane that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere. The entire process, from capturing methane emissions to displacing diesel emissions, can take its total net emissions to below zero.
A proven circular economy approach
RNG fuel has already seen major uptake and wide-scale use across North America. In the United States, RNG makes up over 50 percent of all natural gas vehicle fuel consumed in the country. Here in Ontario, Hamilton’s first carbon-negative RNG bus has positive implications for municipalities seeking green transit solutions. A made-in-Ontario solution, the bus runs on RNG produced from locally-sourced organic waste. Today, the technology exists for municipalities to effectively move their people with the energy from their waste.
RNG can complement electric transit
Some believe that electrification is the only way to achieve a clean energy future, but RNG is an immediate solution, and the lowest potential carbon intensity fuel, here today. With lower vehicle cost, lower fuel costs, lower emissions, and better range than battery electric, switching diesel buses to RNG can improve climate resilience, divert waste from landfill, support economic development and achieve climate targets.
6 reasons transportation authorities should prioritize RNG
1. One-to-one bus replacement
Electric buses have lower range and performance than diesel buses, so it takes more than one electric bus to cover many routes of a diesel counterpart. RNG buses have comparable range and performance, making it easy to replace them one-for-one.
2. More cost-effective than electric
The price of an RNG bus is about half the price of an electric bus, and about 10 percent more than a diesel bus, with less maintenance required. The City of Hamilton reported annual maintenance savings of $5,000 per natural gas bus.
3. It’s ready now and not all or nothing
Why wait on long-term plans for electric fleets when you can take action today? RNG buses can be gradually added as diesel buses come due for replacement.
4. RNG is carbon-pricing exempt
With the carbon charge increasing per tonne of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions each year, RNG (or even a blend of RNG and compressed natural gas) is an immediate way to mitigate fuel cost increases.
5. Reliable and resilient
We’re seeing the impact of climate change more than ever before. The natural gas system is known for its unparalleled reliability and can improve resilience, compared to above-ground energy distribution systems that are easily impacted by climate and weather events like ice or wind.
6. Better refueling and performance
RNG buses refuel as quickly as diesel, so there’s no waiting hours to be fully charged. They’re also capable of operating in the extreme cold of Canadian winters.
Enbridge Gas provides a turnkey solution with no upfront capital
We understand that doing any fuel switch has complexity. That’s why we’ve put together a turnkey solution that takes care of everything—from garage modifications, where necessary, and fueling station facilities to the incremental cost of buses and fuel sourcing. We build the price of switching into the fuel price, so there’s no incremental capital cost. This helps municipalities see immediate environmental benefits.
RNG is a cost-effective, market-ready choice to meet sustainability goals. Enbridge Gas is here to help municipalities unlock the potential of RNG to get more net-zero fleets on the road.