Canada contributes to anaerobic digestion project

By Anna Austin
The Canadian government recently announced it would provide a federal repayable contribution of up to $1.6 million for a $6 million waste-to-energy project in Ontario.

The funds will be distributed through the Agri-Opportunities Program, a $134 million initiative launched in January 2007 and designed to increase market opportunities for the Canadian agriculture industry.

Seacliff Energy Inc. will use the $1.6 million to construct an anaerobic digestion facility which will transform vegetable/food waste from local greenhouses and food processing plants, as well as cattle and swine manure from local farms, into power that will be sold to the Ontario power grid or used to heat a nearby greenhouses. The digestate will be sold as a natural fertilizer.

In the beginning of 2007, Ontario put into place its Standard Offer Program, a feed-in tariff that incentivizes the adoption of renewable energy. Regional or national electric utilities are obligated to buy renewable electricity at above market rates, which are set by the government, to help overcome any cost disadvantages of using renewable energy sources.

Unlike most digester systems currently in use in Canada, the project involves a two-stage system that will hold up to 40,000 metric tons of waste. Two-stage digestion systems are complex and typically more expensive than single-stage or continuous batch, but offer considerable advantages such as having more control of the reactions occurring within the system.

A feedstock mix of more than 50 different types of materials, including cucumbers, corn silage, and cattle and swine manure will be used at Seacliff Energy. The company plans to collect materials from local food processing plants, five of which are located within 50 kilometers (30 miles) of the facility's location.

The facility is expected to become operational in the fall.

In addition to Seacliff Energy, the Agri-Opportunities Program is providing financial support for an anaerobic digestion project in Ontario. Powerbase Energy Systems Inc., of Carleton Place, Ontario, will receive $480,500 in repayable funding for the development of a facility to manufacture anaerobic digestion systems that process agricultural waste into electrical energy.