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Wednesday, 25 January 2012 10:49

Galt’s energy series will add fuel to the fire

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By Jamie Woodford
Southern Alberta
Understanding how plant and animal waste is converted into energy can be mind boggling, and with several such projects popping up around southern Alberta, it can be difficult navigating through the technical jargon.


In an effort to explain how the technology works and what the plant will actually accomplish, Stefan Michalski spoke about how the Lethbridge Biogas LP plant will work “on a very untechnical level” during the Galt Museum and Archives Agriculture Innovation and Business Speakers Series.

The plant, currently under construction by ECB Enviro North America Inc., is one project that aims to turn manure and other biological by-products into fertilizer pellets, liquid fertilizer and electricity. The heat generated by the plant is expected to build 2.85 megawatts of electricity each year — enough to power 2,500 homes. The company estimates it will offset a projected 45,000 tonnes of harmful carbon dioxide emissions per year.

Michalski’s Jan. 19 presentation covered background of the project and how similar operations have advanced in other parts of the world, mainly Europe.

The plant will affect southern Alberta in three ways.

It has three main components, he explained: energy, agricultural and industrial.

“One, we will provide green, renewable energy without any impact on climate. The second thing is, we will provide a sustainable disposal option for agri-food, agricultural-based material for the area, which is new. That should provide the agri-food industry with the opportunity to actually lower disposal costs,” he said.

Creating organic fertilizer is the third product “which is not very developed in this part of the world,” he pointed out. “But the characteristics of oil, the overloading with manure and stuff we will try to point the agriculture community into new directions with this new product.”

Biogas plants and other projects such as anerobic disgesters are becoming more and more common in Canada, but Michalski said it’s not likely it will become a booming industry as it has in Europe.

“It has a lot to do with waste disposal issues ... (and) with Europe getting away from importing energy,” he said. “So Canada — Alberta in particular — is a very energy-rich, resource-rich country, with a lot of free space, so the pressure on technology development and coming up with alternate solutions is certainly not as big as it is in Europe.”

However, the concept certainly works in an area such as southern Alberta with its abundance biological waste from agricultural operations. Support for the project is growing as numerous individuals and businesses throughout Lethbridge County, Pincher Creek and Crowsnest Pass have expressed interest in supplying the plant with their waste.

Construction has been put on hold over the winter with plans to start up again in March. The plant will start producing electricity in January 2013 with hopes to have full production by March 2013.

Information on upcoming speakers in the series is available at www.galtmuseum.com.

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