February 5, 2020. On February 5, 2020, M.J. Bradley & Associates (MJB&A) published a report evaluating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions scenarios in medium- and heavy-duty on-road vehicles, and residential and commercial heating, for a 12-state region stretching from Virginia to Maine. Renewable biofuels, renewable natural gas (RNG) and biomass-based diesel, were shown to significantly reduce GHG emissions that electrification and efficiency measures alone don’t reach, even under moderately aggressive scenarios. The report concluded that a complementary, portfolio strategy for GHG emissions will yield the best results for Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states.

“The report demonstrates that even aggressive efforts to electrify transportation and heating will need to be matched with aggressive adoption of renewable natural gas,” said Johannes Escudero, CEO of the Coalition for Renewable Natural Gas. “We are poised to deliver increasing volumes of RNG to meet the needs of Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic customers while driving down GHG emissions.

“Policymakers throughout the region have a choice to make,” added Escudero. “We trust they will make the right choice – for the region and the planet – and embrace RNG as an essential part of the solution to climate change.”

The analysis focuses on the use of both liquid and gaseous biofuels – specifically renewable natural gas (RNG) as a substitute for fossil natural gas, and biomass-based diesel as a substitute for liquid distillate fuels produced from petroleum.

MJB&A’s analysis indicates that a moderately aggressive electrification strategy could reduce annual emissions by 11 percent from current levels in 2030, and by 14 percent in 2050 – but this would still leave more than 2 trillion cubic feet of natural gas use, and more than 8.5 billion gallons of distillate fuel use in these sectors of the region’s economy in 2050.

The complementary use of renewable natural gas and biomass-based diesel fuel, as a substitute for fossil fuels to satisfy this residual gaseous and liquid fuel demand, could further reduce annual GHG emissions by as much as 52 million metric tons (MT) in 2030 (19 percent reduction from today), and by as much as 194 million MT in 2050 (47 percent reduction from today). Between 2020 and 2050, the cumulative additional GHG reductions from the use of renewable biofuels in these sectors could exceed 2.8 billion MT in the region. Unlike electrification, expanded use of biomass-based liquid and gaseous fuels will not require significant infrastructure investments or changes in the vehicle fleet or building equipment stock.  As such, use of these fuels could provide significant near-term GHG reductions.

“This study shows a path to achieve significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from both heavy-duty vehicles and building heating across the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region,” said Sam Wade, Director of Regulatory Affairs for the RNG Coalition. “Renewable natural gas could play a big role in both of these sectors if properly incentivized as part of a balanced portfolio of low carbon technologies.”