Greenhouse would benefit from biogas proposal

April 23, 2010
April 23, 2010, St. Thomas, Ont. – Earlier this week, the City of Toronto’s executive committee approved a staff report seeking authority to implement a biogas utilization system that would convert biogas produced at the City’s Green Lane Landfill (near St. Thomas) into renewable energy, specifically electricity and heat.

One of the uses of the energy would be to heat a nearby greenhouse operation, one of the largest propagation companies in Ontario. The project would involve Toronto partnering with Toronto Hydro Energy Services Inc. (THESI) and Ontario Plants Propagation Limited (OPPL). Overall, the project would have significant environmental and financial benefits for the City of Toronto.

Mayor David Miller, executive committee chair, noted the committee’s unanimous approval of the proposal and said, “sustainability and the conservation of non-renewable resources should be the cornerstone of all our major initiatives. As a city we can be very proud that the report’s proposal takes a negative by-product and turns it into such a positive end result that is highly beneficial in both environmental and financial terms.”

THESI and OPPL intend to sell the electricity produced from the landfill biogas to Ontario Power Authority under its Feed-in Tariff (FIT) Program for renewables. In total, the project will produce up to 138,000 megawatt-hours (MWeh) annually, enough to power 1,200 Toronto homes and displace approximately 15,000 tonnes CO2 emissions annually in grid electricity - equivalent to 4,545 cars removed from the road.

OPPL operates a six-hectare greenhouse facility located seven kilometres south of the Green Lane landfill. The greenhouse will use the heat created by the cogeneration plant to reduce its natural gas use by up to 235,000 Gigajoules (GJ), enough to heat 1,800 Toronto homes a year and to displace approximately 4,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually, equivalent to 1,212 cars removed from the road, according to the city’s report.

The resulting financial benefits to Toronto include yearly lease payments for the use of the landfill buffer land for construction of the required facilities, and biogas royalty payments expected to exceed $1.5 million a year (over a supply time frame of 25 years, with a possible 10-year extension).

THESI and OPPL would design, construct and operate a biogas utilization system that would include a 10 megawatt (MWe) co-generation plant (producing heat and electricity) on OPPL property situated close to the landfill; a pipeline to carry the biogas from the landfill to the site; a biogas compressor plant to be located on Green Lane buffer land leased to THESI; and a future generation plant capable of producing up to 6 MWe of additional electricity to be located on either buffer land or OPPL property, once sufficient biogas is available.

Construction will take place in 2011-2012, anticipating a July 2013 operating date for the co-generation plant.

City Council will consider this report in May.

Toronto is Canada's largest city and sixth largest government, and home to a diverse population of about 2.6 million people.

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