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To better understand the status of biogas projects and funding opportunities for future biogas initiatives, representatives from COLE’s resource recovery team recently attended the Canadian Biogas Association’s Value of Biogas East 2018 Conference in Gatineau, QC. Zhiping Qiu and Aleah Henry used the opportunity to connect with a broad group of attendees to learn how COLE can best help with providing technical solutions in the biogas space, focusing on wastewater facilities.

Presentation from Biogas East 2018With backing from the recent Environmental Commissioner’s Annual Greenhouse Gas Progress Report (2017), anaerobic digestion (AD) has been highlighted as a promising approach to generate GHG offset credits, as well as supporting the diversion of organics from landfill. Our team notes that wastewater treatment facilities have a lot of room for improvement in terms of reducing GHG emissions and contributing to a circular economy, including nutrient recovery and maximizing biogas generation via AD for clean energy production. The trend in the last few years of rebranding some wastewater treatment plants into “resource recovery facilities” indicates that many utilities are becoming more receptive to this sustainable approach.

Zhiping and Aleah offer some insights from the conference:
CC: What technologies mentioned at the conference are most exciting or promising to you & why?
ZQ: There was an impressive knowledge and experience base regarding feedstock preparation, and specifically, interesting modular biogas purification technology, which upgrades raw biogas to renewable natural gas (RNG) grade – useful for improving biogas quality to grid quality.
AH: The idea of ‘mutual symbiosis’ which takes wastes from different industries physically close together to produce a feedstock with a better nutrient balance for co-digestion.  There are so many cases in nature where mutually beneficial relationships are developed to optimize growth; it certainly makes sense to use the same strategy to optimize biogas production at wastewater facilities, produce a renewable source of energy and divert material from landfills.

CC: What is your impression of funding availability or stimulus for biogas projects in Ontario/Canada?
ZQ: With the major gas utilities like Energir, Enbridge, Union Gas, and FortisBC supporting the idea of accepting RNG to grid (helping to meet obligations of carbon cap and trade) and setting RNG to grid contribution targets, more funding, financial and policy support is forthcoming.
AH: There is a consistent theme of planning now to meet emission reduction targets by around 2030.  It seems that both the public and private sectors are invested in supporting these goals through GHG reduction funds, low carbon economy funds and facilitation of RNG injection to grid projects.

CC: What are some of the key takeaways from your experience at the Value of Biogas East 2018?
ZQ: The food waste market and RNG from biogas will open up projects in both municipal and private sectors. Consulting engineers can play an important role in developing the biogas industry and I’m optimistic of COLE being a key contributor.
AH: Opportunities for co-digestion by combining feedstocks are opening up as more research is being done on implementing AD as a treatment solution in different industries. However, there are still many challenges for small AD plants; majority of current government support seems to be directed at RNG which is commonly not feasible for small scale operations.

COLE is excited to be working on sustainable and valuable solutions in this field and our experts look forward to contributing more towards optimizing wastewater management. Please contact us if you would like to discuss how we can help you maximize the value of your wastewater facility.