The IRA calls for $369 billion in investments aimed at cutting US greenhouse gases 40% below the 2005 level by 2030. Achieving this would bring our country close to the ambitious and critical US goal of cutting them in half by 2030.
Among the numerous renewable fuel options supported by the IRA, the low-carbon fuel strategy that Energy Vision has long sought to advance — use of anaerobic digester technology to create Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) — stands to gain greatly from this law. The IRA has a strong focus on cutting methane, a potent greenhouse gas that is 86 times more powerful in its global warming potential than carbon dioxide over a twenty-year period. And a third of this methane comes from decaying organic wastes, which can be captured in anaerobic digesters.
The law also recognizes transportation to be the biggest source of climate pollution, with buses and trucks, which make up just 10% of all vehicles on US roadways, generating 30% of climate-disrupting emissions. And Energy Vision’s research has shown that one big solution for this sector is converting heavy-duty vehicles from diesel to waste-based renewable natural gas fuel. While electric battery technology has proven successful for light duty vehicles, it is not yet affordable or commercial for these heavy duty applications, not to mention the maritime and aviation sectors.
The IRA aims to create 9 million clean energy and manufacturing job. Among the IRA’s provisions, it creates tax credits for many forms of renewable energy including anaerobic digestion (AD) projects. It extends or expands most current tax credits for business and residential renewable energy projects. It makes many credits virtually permanent going forward, through 10-year eligibility provisions. And, critically, it replaces traditional “technology-based” credit categories for wind, solar, biomass or other projects with “technology-neutral” credit regimes which reward projects with the lowest GHG emissions on a life cycle basis. On this basis, Renewable Natural Gas fuel, produced from the methane captured from organic wastes, emerges as a winner for heavy-duty vehicles today.
But the IRA isn’t the only measure now lighting a fire under anaerobic digestion technology. Private investors are turning in this direction for economic and environmental reasons. This year, BlackRock, the largest asset manager in the world, bought Vanguard Renewables, a leader in building ag waste digesters (2020 EV Leadership Awardee), and Itochu, a Japanese trading company with a global presence just put $3.6 million into Seattle-based Impact Bioenergy (2017 EV Leadership Awardee), which is developing small scale food waste digesters for communities, campuses, grocers and more.
To meet the global climate challenge, the anaerobic digester projects that received Energy Vision’s three leadership awards this year are exciting examples of one critical direction in which our world needs to go, and with the public and private monies becoming available, Energy Vision will continue to serve as a key catalyst for this change.