Abbotsford and Mission look to turn sewage biogas into cash

Energy from excess gas enough to heat hundreds of homes

The City of Abbotsford is looking to turn poop into money.

The JAMES wastewater plant currently uses biogas it produces to heat sludge, but it produces nearly twice as much as it needs. Now the city is getting ready to gauge the interest in those who may either want to buy the gas – or the heat it produces.

Every day, the plant produces nearly 7,000 cubic metres of biogas, but uses only around 4,000 cubic metres of that total. The rest goes unused, even though it contains enough energy to heat a couple hundred homes.

While the average house is unlikely to be the beneficiary of biogas heat, the city is considering the feasibility of either selling off the biogas outright, or providing district heating to nearby industrial or agricultural buildings.

A report in a recently adopted master plan by the city notes that “grant opportunities may be available for cogeneration, which would make this option financially feasible.” But it adds that the sale of biogas should be considered alongside the plant’s own heating needs and the sustainability of a deal.

The JAMES plant’s other major byproduct, biosolids, are already reused and spread over fields near Merritt. The contract for their disposal, though, doesn’t make the municipalities any money. Instead, they pay around a half-million dollars each year for a private company – BioCentral Green Depot – to get rid of the waste.

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