Canadian company building AD demonstration facility

By Rona Johnson | March 07, 2011

Ontario-based Carbon Control Systems Inc. is building a 100-kilowatt on-farm anaerobic digester near Toronto as a model to show farmers how the technology works and to demonstrate the advantages of the small-scale systems.

“The goal is to not only generate power and put it on the grid, which is good, but it is also to display to farmers a model that works in Ontario, and around the world, that definitely fits into the typical agricultural system that is here and the typical resources that are here,” said Chris Ferguson, president and CEO of CCS and Germany-based CCS agrikomp Inc., a joint venture between agrikomp and CCS. The two companies design and build on-farm anaerobic digestion systems. 

This system costs roughly CA $1 million ($1.03 million) and generates $165,000 per year in electricity. “There is enough electrical power to completely meet the electrical demand of 50 homes and the heat demand of 15 homes,” Ferguson said.

CCS has a 20-year contract with the Ontario Power Authority, which will be buying power from the facility for 19.9 cents per kilowatt hour. The long-term contract with the OPA will be a prime driver of on-farm AD, Ferguson said. The contract was made possible by Ontario’s Feed-In Tariff program, which is a guaranteed pricing structure for renewable electricity production for projects that quality. The prices are designed to cover the cost of the projects and allow for a reasonable return on investment over the life of the contract.

“I don’t think we would be outlaying this kid of capital for a project like this if we didn’t have the ability to sell this electricity,” Ferguson said. “Now we can make this money back and we have a good profit.”

The digester uses manure, corn silage and waste fats, oils and grease from nearby restaurants. “We have 100 beef cows on farm that make up 100 percent of the manure input,” Ferguson said. The farm also produces 50 acres of corn silage per year and collects 200 cubic meters of fats, oils and grease.

“The beauty of this plant is that everything comes from a 150-acre-farm,” Ferguson said. “We have 80 arable acres and we can run this digester off 50 acres.”

CCS owns the land where the digester is being built and has located its headquarters there as well. The waste heat from the digester will be used to heat the 7,600-square-foot headquarters building and to dry grain in a 180-metric-ton batch dryer for local farmers.

The advantage of a small-scale system like this is that you don’t have to worry about trucking in manure, and the logistics of getting everything to the farm,” he said. “Keeping everything close is a real advantage.”

The plant is currently under construction and Ferguson expects it will be fully operational by July.

Farmers who want to tour the facility can contact CCS through its website at The website features a time-lapsed video of the plant construction. CCS is working with Octaform Systems in Vancouver, British Columbia, to build the tanks.  

CCS is a start-up company that has been around for two years. Its joint partner CCS agrikomp, which provides the technical components for the digesters, has been in operation since 2000 and has completed hundreds of reference plants in Europe.