The dream of fueling vehicles on methane produced by landfills gas became reality earlier this month. Clean Energy Fuels has announced that it will begin selling a fuel made from landfill methane and other waste sources at 40 filling stations in California. With near zero emissions and a renewable source, the fuel, named Redeem, is the first truly renewable fuel for natural gas vehicles widely available on the market.
There has been a lot of discussion and experimentation around using methane as a commercially viable renewable fuel source, but no one expected success so soon. Clean Energy Fuels, a company backed by hedge fund magnate T. Boone Pickens, is developing a nationwide network of natural gas pumps with plans to introduce the fuel outside of California as soon as possible.
In Livermore, California, the Altamont Landfill has been harvesting methane for natural gas fuel production since 2009. Their LNG plant produces 13,000 gallons of clean-burning natural gas daily, which is enough to power 300 Waste Management collection vehicles every day. But Clean Energy Fuels is the first to bring this type of fuel to the wider market in volume.
With customers like AT&T, Verizon, Super Shuttle, and Hertz ready to use the fuel in their natural gas fleets, the company projects sales of 15 million gallons in California this year — more than double the amount of similar fuels that the Environmental Protection Agency estimated would be produced nationwide.
Tim Carmichael, who leads the California Natural Gas Vehicle Coalition trade group, told the New York Times, “Though California and others have been investing in the development of this fuel, I don’t think people were expecting there to be a significant public supply or access this soon — maybe not even this decade.”
Programs like the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Landfill Methane Outreach Program (LMOP) have aimed to provide technical and marketing assistance to companies and government agencies trying to capture landfill gas. But it was the powerful incentives provided by the state of California, which award tradable credits to suppliers who reduce emissions during the production, transportation, and use of landfill methane fuel, that have enabled the fuel to hit the market so quickly.
Utilizing these and other federal incentives, Redeem is being sold at the same price as conventional natural gas fuel despite the fact that it is currently more expensive to produce. This provides a healthy incentive to companies with natural gas fleets looking to bolster their “green” image.
Sustainable America has set a goal to reduce oil usage in America by 50% by 2035. Market initiatives like Clean Energy Fuel’s Redeem fuel are a crucial component in meeting this goal, and we hope to see more companies jumping on the bandwagon soon.