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New York state primed for more 'renewable' natural gas

Also called biogas, it's possible to capture the methane from the decomposition of organic matter and use it in the same way as conventional natural gas.

Utility providers are drawing on the decomposition or organic waste, from farm manure to landfills, for a new source of natural gas. Photo by Bill Greenblat/UPI
Utility providers are drawing on the decomposition or organic waste, from farm manure to landfills, for a new source of natural gas. Photo by Bill Greenblat/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 15 (UPI) -- Residents in upstate New York could soon start getting natural gas sourced from the decomposition of the animal waste from an area dairy farm, utility company UGI Corp. announced Tuesday.

UGI and a joint venture partner, Cayuga RNG, said they entered into a new agreement to build their fifth facility to produce so-called renewable natural gas. Described elsewhere as biogas, utilities can capture the methane emitted during the composition of organic matter, manure in this case, and process it for use in the utility sector.

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UGI said it was working with New Hope, a fifth-generation dairy farm in upstate New York that manages nearly 3,000 head of cattle.

"We feel it is a huge benefit to our farm, community and environment to lower our emissions while creating sustainable energy," Sarah Head, one of the managers at New Hope, said. "It is the future of our industry as well as our energy production."

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Landfills are another source of so-called renewable natural gas. British energy major BP last month committed $4 billion in cash, plus another $800 million to cover net debt, to acquire RNG developer Archaea Energy, which operates 50 renewable natural gas and landfill gas-to-energy facilities across the United States.

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BP said it believes the acquisition could lead to a five-fold increase in its renewable natural gas production by the end of the decade. Archaea already had plans to develop another 40 projects across the United States that would eventually provide a substitute resource for conventional natural gas.

UGI said the project in upstate New York could be completed by early 2024. Methane captured from the animal waste would be processed in a way that makes it suitable for entry into existing regional natural gas pipeline infrastructure.

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