Jeff Nagel, BC Local News, Tri-City News, May 14, 2010
The City of Abbotsford has approved a manure digesting plant that Metro Vancouver officials say amounts to a waste-to-energy facility that will result in air emissions in the Fraser Valley.
Catalyst Power is building the $6-million plant that will ferment 36,500 tonnes per year of mainly livestock manure to produce a biogas that will be purified and piped to users via Terasen's natural gas lines.
Metro board chair Lois Jackson says the anaerobic digestion technology Catalyst uses is a form of waste-to-energy and is also among the options Metro has laid out in its proposed waste management plan.
"There's nothing wrong with it," Jackson said of the Catalyst plant. "But how come we're getting such a bad rap in Vancouver? They're doing something that's waste-to-energy and it's okay."
Unlike a new Metro waste incinerator, Catalyst's digester wouldn't burn anything itself – the resulting biogas would be burned by other users, where Jackson says the emissions will be created.
It's the reverse of Metro's district heating scheme, where steam from a new incinerator would be piped to other buildings, which then wouldn't need to burn fuel.
But Abbotsford Coun. Patricia Ross, who has been in a protracted war of words with Metro over the incineration issue, says Jackson isn't comparing apples to apples and shouldn't try to liken the Catalyst project to incineration.
"It's completely different than what Metro Vancouver is proposing," said Ross, who chairs the Fraser Valley Regional District board.
"What we have been opposing is the burning of garbage – the most complex, toxic and unpredictable fuel on the planet."
Emissions from burning garbage are radically different than burning something akin to natural gas, she added.
Ross said there are many good ideas in Metro's plan that she supports.
"It's this one proposal of building these waste-to-energy incinerators that we have a problem with."
Anaerobic digestion is also to be used to create biofuel in Surrey at a new organic waste processing plant Metro plans to build.
In addition to incineration and anerobic digestion, Metro's draft plan would also allow gasification/pyrolysis and the industrial use of refuse-derived fuel under the heading of waste-to-energy.
Abbotsford farmer and Catalyst founder Chris Bush said the gas his plant would produce will offset the burning of other fuels.
"This is a net positive on every front," he said. "There's no combustion in our process. There's no air emissions."
Catalyst's project, at 2016 Inter-Provincial Highway, is funded in part by a $1.5 million grant from B.C.'s Innovative Clean Energy Fund on the basis that it will create fuel while providing a green way to use farm waste.