Énergir Renewable Natural Gas: Future of Clean Energy?

Énergir Renewable Natural Gas: Future of Clean Energy?

Olivier Fortier-Francoeur, journalist

Énergir, the main natural gas distribution company of the Quebec province, recently found a way to make their business environment friendly. Or did they?

How does it all work?

First off, Énergir collects trash either from your compost bin or waste products from food industries and takes it to their factories. There, they are placed in biodigesters, some kind of giant stomach where microorganisms transform the waste into a gas called RNG(renewable natural gas) and a solid named Digestate through a process known as biomethanation.

The gas, harmless to the atmosphere, can be used the same way as its fossil fuels alternatives like heating, electricity production, or even fuel for vehicles with less greenhouse gas emission when burned. On the other hand, the solid can be used as a cheap and natural fertilizer for as small as a flower bed or as big as farmland.

Is it bad for people or the planet?

Biomethanation produces methane. But it is used to make RNG, so it doesn’t have any greenhouse effect. But, the deal is not that great. Using natural gas makes less greenhouse gas emissions than other fossil fuels, but less doesn’t mean not at all, and the renewable variant respects this rule. To fix what we have done to our home planet, such emissions must go down to zero. In this case, RNG can be used to reduce our emissions but won’t allow us to reach our final goal.

When released in the air, it has a strong smell of rotten eggs, but this is just because of a harmless element known as mercaptan. Indeed, Énergir puts it in their new technology so that it can be identified. Without it, the RNG doesn’t have a smell, it is invisible and has no taste. The substance is not toxic or corrosive, the risks are caused by a lack of oxygen in the air the victim breathes. But this is an exceptional case, because the gas is lighter than the air, so as long as the contaminated room is not closed, the gas will escape and everyone inside of it will be fine.

Where is it planned to be used?

In 2023, Québec City will inject renewable natural gas into Énergir’s network. The biomethanation center of the agglomeration of Québec (CBAQ) is currently under construction. Such a project, which will be fully functional by 2022, will process 86,600 tonnes of food residues and 96 tonnes of biosolids, materials from the wastewater treatment plans, per year. To achieve such amounts, the municipality will need a compost collecting system like the one for trash and recycling. If you want to see it for yourself, the building is located at 100 boulevards Henri-Bourassa.

This is already existing in Montreal but the starting date for Quebec will probably be the same as the rest of the province, which is 2025 as François Legault says, “This event will let the possibility for Énergir to expand this new business to the four corners of Quebec.”

Has it proven its value already?

Good examples to this question are the city of Saint-Hyacinthe, the first city in Québec to produce energy through biomethanation and Warwick which brings together roughly ten agricultural producers from the Arthabaska RCM who will produce renewable natural gas (RNG) from slurry and manure from dairy cattle mixed with residual organic matter from surrounding businesses.

There has also been signed an agreement between Laval University and Énergir for the supply of renewable natural gas contributing to both the industry and school development.


Renewable natural gas can be used in a lot of very useful ways. It contributes to the circular economy and reverses climate change. If we achieve such a level, we as a society would be hugely environmentally friendly compared to right now and will probably make a lot of influence around the globe.

sources: Énergir official website, Wikipedia, Google Chrome, le Soleil, Quebec city official site