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With T. Boone Pickens Behind It, Biogas Blasts Off

Clean Energy Fuels has just turned the biogas field from an also-ran to a frontrunner. The company, which has its roots in Pickens Fuel Corp. (named after its founder, legendary oil guy T. Boone Pickens), has just announced an extensive operation for bringing its flagship brand Redeem renewable biomethane to vehicles across the country, sourced from landfills as well as dairy farms and wastewater treatment plants.

That’s a big step up from the locally sourced, locally used biogas operations we’ve been covering, so let’s take a look and see what Pickens (who is still on the Clean Energy Fuels Board of Directors) is up to now.

Clean Energy Fuels Takes Biogas By Storm

Clean Energy Fuels sells biomethane nationwide.

Cow (cropped) by mindfrieze.

In a press announcement, President and CEO of Clean Energy Fuels Harrison Clay had this to say about Redeem:

Redeem is the lowest carbon footprint fuel commercially available and the only affordable renewable fuel for heavy duty trucks. We believe this creates an environmental and economic incentive for companies inside and outside California who are looking to make a major reduction in the greenhouse gas emissions from their fleet operations while still saving on their fuel bill.

The company has a two-fold approach to sales. It is selling directly to companies with vehicle fleets across the country, and it has also opened up 35 public “Clean Energy” stations in California that are available to both commercial and private vehicles.

According to a report in the New York Times, Clean Energy already has a slew of fleet vehicle customers under its belt including heavy hitters AT&T, Verizon, SuperShuttle, and Hertz along with Mattel and Williams-Sonoma.

As for the biomethane, Clean Energy already has two production facilities of its own in Texas and Michigan, with a third under construction in Tennessee. It also acquires feedstock for Redeem from third parties including the aforementioned dairy farms and wastewater plants.

Why Pay More For Renewable Methane?

With anti-pollution incentives, Redeem comes out cheaper than diesel fuel. When you factor in the natural gas fracking controversy Redeem also has a clear advantage, although it is selling for about the same price as its fossil counterpart.

Aside from appealing to individual consumers who are on the lookout for sustainable energy, products like Redeem have a built-in appeal to high profile companies that are in hot competition to establish themselves as green brands. The availability of carbon credits provides an additional incentive, too.

Biogas On The March

Although biogas is usually associated with landfills, the field has been expanding rapidly. Back in the spring of 2010, the Obama Administration began a full-throttle push to encourage the dairy industry to adopt manure-to-methane technology under the Environmental Protection Agency’s AgSTAR program.

Municipal wastewater, which contains copious amounts of biogas-worthy organic material, is another logical target for capturing renewable methane.

Typically, biogas produced at dairy farms and treatment plants is used on site or sold locally, but we knew something was afoot when San Antonio announced that it had become the first in the nation to hook wastewater biogas from a local treatment plant up with a commercial gas pipeline. Now it looks like the floodgates are open for long-distance operations like Clean Fuels.

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Tina specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Spoutible.


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