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Thursday, 20 October 2011 08:05

New biogas plant construction got a good start

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By Jamie Woodford
Construction of a new biogas plant in Lethbridge got a head start with southern Alberta’s extended summer.
Crews wrapped up land upgrades and tank foundations last week before shutting down for the winter.

“We had planned on starting in March of next year, but when we had a little bit of a window, we thought ‘Hey, we might be able to get a head start,’” explained Thane Hurlbert, president of ECB Enviro North America Inc.

The plant, which will turn manure into electricity, has been in the works for 10 years at ECB, which partnered with Ontario-based PlanEt Biogas Solutions Inc. — which has built five similar facilities across Canada — to form Lethbridge Biogas LP.

When construction  beings again in March, crews will work to finish up concrete foundations and walls and move on to building an access road and infrastructure.

“We will be completed by the end of December 2012,” Hurlbert said. “Basically, we should be done construction by the end of October (2012) or even earlier, but there’s a few months start up time and commissioning.”

The plant will start producing electricity in January 2013.

“We expect to have full production in March 2013,” he said.

Armed with multiple letters of intent from individuals and businesses throughout Lethbridge County, Pincher Creek and Crowsnest Pass that will offer animal and plant waste to fuel the plant, Hurlbert said support for the project is growing.

“We’ve said for a number of years that — I hate to do the field of dreams thing, but — if you build it they will come,” he said. “There’s five, 10 times as much material in the area than we need, so we knew that as soon as we really started building, a lot more (support) than we even thought of would come out of the woodwork.

“Once we get rolling into full swing, we’ll convert all of those to contracts,” he added.

Located in Lethbridge’s Rave Industrial Park, the biogas plant will use plant and animal waste to create fertilizer pellets, liquid fertilizer and electricity. The company estimates it will offset a projected 45,000 tonnes of harmful carbon dioxide emissions per year.

The heat generated by the plant is expected to build 2.85 megawatts of electricity each year which is enough to power 2,500 homes.

— With files from The Lethbridge Herald

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