Metro Vancouver unveils first of several new renewable natural gas facilities

The $11.2-million Lulu Island Renewable Natural Gas Facility allows unused biogas to be cleaned, stored and sold. Photo Credit: Metro Vancouver

A new facility designed to recover more energy from liquid wastewater treatment is now being showcased in Metro Vancouver, British Columbia.

The $11.2-million facility — made a reality through the partnership of Metro Vancouver and FortisBC Energy Inc. — generates biogas as a byproduct of the wastewater treatment process. The untreated digester gas is cleaned by using a water-based scrubbing technology to remove elements such as hydrogen sulfide to make it pipeline ready for natural gas systems.

The new Lulu Island Renewable Natural Gas Facility, located in Richmond, B.C., at Metro Vancouver’s Lulu Island Wastewater Treatment Plant site, allows unused biogas to be cleaned, stored and sold as renewable natural gas or RNG.

The new system took about 14 months to construct.

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While some of the methane had been used by the plant for its own process and heating needs, historically, about half of the surplus gas had simply been flared off. Now, it’s captured for use as renewable natural gas, too.


Sav Dhaliwal, chair of the Metro Vancouver Board of Directors, said that the facility will produce enough renewable natural gas to heat more than 600 homes. Production will increase, he told media, as the region’s population grows.

Fortis customers who want to pay a premium for the biogas supply under the utility’s renewable natural gas program will be charged a “blended” rate.

FortisBC officials say they are working to source enough carbon-neutral renewable natural gas to make up 15% of its overall natural gas supply by 2030 as part of their 30BY30 target to cut customers’ GHG emissions.

Metro Vancouver has plans to install similar systems at up to three of its other wastewater treatment plants.

Richard Stewart, chair of the Metro Vancouver Liquid Waste Committee, said the region intends to reinvest some of the revenue from the sale of RNG into projects that will increase the amount of unused biogas available.

“This will allow the plant to clean and sell more renewable natural gas in the future, further reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the region,” Stewart announced in a statement to media.

Metro Vancouver is implementing the Climate 2050 Strategy, which contains a vision of a resilient, carbon-neutral future for the region. The initiative eyes a 45% reduction in regional GHG levels by 2030 from 2010 levels, and aims to achieve regional carbon neutrality by 2050.

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