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The Feasibility of Renewable Natural Gas in New Jersey

Anneliese Dyer (), Amelia Christine Miller (), Brianna Chandra (), Juan Galindo Maza (), Carley Tran (), Justin Bates (), Vicky Olivier () and Amy R. Tuininga ()
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Anneliese Dyer: PSEG Institute for Sustainability Studies, Montclair State University, Montclair, NJ 07043, USA
Amelia Christine Miller: PSEG Institute for Sustainability Studies, Montclair State University, Montclair, NJ 07043, USA
Brianna Chandra: PSEG Institute for Sustainability Studies, Montclair State University, Montclair, NJ 07043, USA
Juan Galindo Maza: PSEG Institute for Sustainability Studies, Montclair State University, Montclair, NJ 07043, USA
Carley Tran: PSEG Institute for Sustainability Studies, Montclair State University, Montclair, NJ 07043, USA
Justin Bates: PSEG Institute for Sustainability Studies, Montclair State University, Montclair, NJ 07043, USA
Vicky Olivier: PSEG Institute for Sustainability Studies, Montclair State University, Montclair, NJ 07043, USA
Amy R. Tuininga: PSEG Institute for Sustainability Studies, Montclair State University, Montclair, NJ 07043, USA

Sustainability, 2021, vol. 13, issue 4, 1-31

Abstract: With traditional natural gas being one of the top options for heating in the United States and the present threat of climate change, there is a demand for an alternative clean fuel source. A Renewable Natural Gas Implementation Decision-Making Conceptual Model was created to provide a framework for considering the feasibility of renewable natural gas (RNG) projects and applied to New Jersey, specifically investigating landfills and wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs). Data from the US EPA’s Landfill Methane Outreach Program and New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection Sewage Sludge databases were used to identify seven landfills and 22 WWTPs as possible locations for RNG projects. Landfills were found to have a higher potential for producing RNG, on average potentially producing enough RNG to heat 12,792 homes per year versus 1227 for the average WWTP. Additionally, landfills, while having higher capital expenses, have lower projected payback periods, averaging 5.19 years compared to WWTP’s 11.78 years. WWTPs, however, generally are located closer to existing natural gas pipelines than landfills and when they produce more than 362 million standard cubic feet per year (MMSCFY) of biogas are financially feasible. RNG projects at Monmouth County Reclamation Center, Ocean County Landfill, and Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission WWTP show the greatest potential. Greenhouse gas emission reductions from RNG projects at these facilities utilizing all available biogas would be 1.628 million metric tons CO 2 equivalents per year, synonymous to removing over 351,000 passenger vehicles from the road each year. In addition, expanding federal and state incentives to encompass RNG as a heating fuel is necessary to reduce financial barriers to RNG projects throughout the US. Overall, this paper supports the hypothesized conceptual model in examining the feasibility of RNG projects through examples from New Jersey and confirms the potential for RNG production utilizing existing waste streams.

Keywords: renewable natural gas; methane; biogas; carbon neutral; renewable energy; New Jersey; landfill; emission reduction; alternative energy; biomethane (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: O13 Q Q0 Q2 Q3 Q5 Q56 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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