Canadian Government Backs Veg Growers Renewable Heat & Power Project

The Canadian government's Agri-Opportunities program is getting behind a community-driven project that aims to turn 50 different kinds and 40,000 metric tons of agricultural waste into clean, renewable heat and power, as well as organic fertilizer.

The Canadian government May 22 announced it will commit as much as $1.6 million to help Seacliff Energy Inc. build a combined heat, power and organic fertilizer plant in Ontario as part of the government's Agri-Opportunities program.

ontariogreenhouseveggies

The project is expected to avoid the equivalent of 5,217 metric tons of CO2 annually based on the CO2 emissions of all the parties involved while generating $2 million Canadian in revenue for Seacliff by 2010.

The Leamington area is home to 10,000 acres of greenhouses and five major food processing plants. Participating farmers and food processors will realize lower operating costs and higher operating efficiency, paving the way for what the government and Seacliff hopes will serve as a model that will be applied at local farms and local communities elsewhere around the country.

*Photo courtesy Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers

Taking a Cue from Cows' Stomachs

"Farmers could pool their resources together to purchase the technology, which would reduce their operating costs and introduce new revenue streams," according to a news release.

The first of its kind, Seacliff aims to establish a closed loop for agricultural waste-to-heat-and-power loop with farmers and food processors around Leamington, Ontario. Up to 50 different kinds and 40,000 metric tons of agricultural waste, including cucumbers and cucumber prunings, corn silage and swine manure, will serve as feedstock for the plant.

Mimicking what goes in cow's stomachs, the waste will flow into the planned plant's anaerobic digesters and produce biogas and thermal heat, as well as organic fertilizer. Enough heat will be generated to meet the needs of Pellee Hydroponics' adjacent cucumber and tomato greenhouse. Excess electricity will be sold to the Ontario power grid. Local corn producers will buy the organic fertilizer that's left over.

In addition to reducing operational costs and generating revenue through the production of clean, renewable heat, power, and organic fertilizer--not mention significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions--the operation will also reduce the amount of waste flowing into local landfills, which is becoming a problem in the area, as well as the cost of waste disposal. Seacliff says it will charge lower tipping fees for taking in the agricultural waste.

"Fuel costs have killed us in the last few years and we're looking forward to a less expensive, more consistent and greener source of heat and energy," said Dennis Dick, Seacliff partner and owner of the adjacent greenhouse. "Everywhere you look there are benefits. We get organic, nutrient-rich fertilizer from the digester and the waste from our greenhouse will be fed back into the digester."

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