Appleton, Wis., June 26, 2019 — With its corporate headquarters surrounded by dairy farms, U.S. Gain, a division of U.S. Venture, Inc., is familiar with the benefits the agricultural industry provides the local economy. Even so, U.S. Gain President Mike Koel never thought his business would be investing in these farms to produce alternative fuel. With partnerships in 12 dairy farms and growing, U.S. Gain is especially honored to see these farms profit from renewable natural gas (RNG) production.
RNG is an alternative fuel produced by capturing methane from agricultural waste, wastewater, landfills, and food waste. Gas from these sources is cleaned and conditioned to meet pipeline standards and then dispensed through natural gas fueling stations.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), agriculture represents about 9% of greenhouse gas emissions which trap heat in the atmosphere and lead to global warming. However, dairy farmers’ recent adoption of anaerobic digesters, used in part to produce RNG, reduces emissions generated by the agriculture sector. Now, instead of emitting methane and other harmful gases into the air, contaminants are captured and transformed into alternative fuel, agricultural bedding, and fertilizer.
“Dairy digesters harvest methane, which is 80% more potent than CO2 and prevent greenhouse gases from otherwise escaping into the atmosphere,” Koel explains. “They also reduce odor by 50% and kill harmful bacteria such as E.coli.”
Government officials, along with organizations and consumers, are prioritizing greenhouse gas reduction strategies. Not only does RNG provide emission reductions during its development, but it also improves air quality when used as an alternative fuel. According to the EPA, transportation-related emissions comprise nearly half of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions which can be reduced by up to 125% when RNG is used as a transportation fuel instead of diesel.
Environmental benefits aren’t the only gains associated with RNG. When used in transportation, RNG generates federal and regional financial credits under the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS), and Oregon’s Clean Fuels Program (CFP). These government agencies recognize the strong environmental case for alternative fuels and issue credits as an incentive to fleets for helping these areas achieve outlined air quality goals.
These credit programs gave U.S. Gain an opportunity to diversify and become a vertically integrated RNG supplier. By pairing investment in agricultural RNG development with its network of natural gas fueling stations, U.S. Gain is able to obtain a higher portion of credit values and expedite the return on investment—sharing more with their partners while confidently investing in future development opportunities.
“In the past 12 months, the available RNG supply has doubled in volume and continues to grow,” Koel says. “While this trend is positive, supply must continue to rise as demand for RNG expands beyond transportation into buildings and processes for carbon-free facilities and products.”
In addition to the transportation industry, consumers’ climbing demand for RNG has allowed farmers to diversify their revenue streams through direct financial gains or additional cost savings. RNG production requires skilled operators to run and maintain equipment at these agricultural facilities which has brought new job opportunities to rural communities. As demand for RNG continues to rise, U.S. Gain looks forward to building a strong future of environmental and economic success with the agricultural industry.