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There’s no denying that fracking is bad, really bad. But what about natural gas from other sources? California’s Clean Energy Fuels has just announced that they have begun the sale of a car fuel made with methane that they source from landfill sites. It’s already projected to do remarkably well; the company expects to sell 15 million gallons of Redeem biogas in California this year at 40 filling stations as well as to a customer base that includes SuperShuttle and Hertz.
The primary benefit of landfill-sourced methane is that we don’t have to frack for it—thus no irradiated rivers or unexpected earthquakes caused by its production. But it turns out there are other environmental benefits too: Clean Energy’s CEO explained to the New York Times that “Redeem can burn 90 percent cleaner than diesel.”
Additionally, the removal of methane gas from landfill does have some impact on reducing the gas’s significant environmental impact. Methane is the second most prevalent source of human-driven greenhouse gas emissions, and landfill sites are the third-largest source of those emissions. Furthermore, because of the source of the gas, it counts as a renewable source of energy.
For several years now those working in agriculture and waste management have developed ways to capture methane for both transportation and electricity needs, but it appears to have come as something of a surprise to industry experts to see the biogas developed as a commercially available car fuel quite so quickly. Tim Carmichael, who leads the California Natural Gas Vehicle Coalition, explained to the NYT that many had not even expected to see it hit the market this decade.
While the gas is relatively expensive to produce, current California incentives enable Clean Energy Fuels to sell Redeem for about the same price conventional natural gas, and for far less than diesel. It’s environmental credentials serve as a selling point to owners of large fleets who have already switched over to vehicles that run on natural gas, but are looking for a fuel that is less destructive and poorly-perceived by the public.
Clean Energy Fuels, who are is backed by T. Boone Pickens, is currently “developing a nationwide network of natural gas pumps and plans to introduce the fuel elsewhere as well.” Using the gas that escapes from rotting trash to power our cars might provoke a certain “ick” factor, but it’s certainly a whole lot better than injecting a secretive range of chemicals into the earth to provide “green energy.”
Secondary Image © Clean Energy Fuels