Bioenergy centre seeks approval for $3 million in upgrades

The Nanaimo Bioenergy Centre wants to invest $3 million to upgrade gas collection facilities at the Cedar landfill to improve power generating efficiencies and create biogas opportunities.

The Nanaimo Bioenergy Centre wants to invest $3 million to upgrade gas collection facilities at the Cedar landfill to improve power-generating efficiencies and create biogas opportunities.

The company’s expansion proposal was approved by the Regional District of Nanaimo’s committee of the whole and will now go to the board for final approval.

Paul Liddy, managing director of the Nanaimo Bioenergy Centre, said the expansion is part of the vision to become a leader in the field of bioenergy production.

The centre is operated by Cedar Road Bioenergy Inc., a subsidiary of Suncurrent Inc. The company plans to expand its landfill gas storage facility, as well as cleaning and processing systems, and create an above-ground geothermal system. It also wants to expand the thermal waste heat recovery system and the processing and compression plant to produce compressed natural gas grade fuel.

The proposal, Phase 2 of the facility, would build on the company’s previous investment of $3.8 million, which created a 1.3 megawatt power plant completed last June.

It was the first Canadian power plant of its kind to use methane from a small to medium landfill to sell power to the electrical grid. Phase 1 and improved efficiencies could mean increased royalty payments to the RDN. Current royalty payments are about $40,000 and could increase to $103,000.

Helmut Blanken, superintendent of engineering and disposal operations, said the proposal fits with the RDN’s zero waste strategies and aims of reducing greenhouse gases.

“With regards to landfill gas, the RDN is on the leading edge of landfill gas collections,” said Blanken.

The goal for the landfill is based on B.C. regulations to meet 75-per cent collection efficiency. Currently the efficiency is around 35 to 40 per cent, said Blanken.

The expansion would also help address issues associated with leachate temperature swings in the gas collection field.

Landfill gas is similar to air in density and can fluctuate and gas generation is somewhat weather dependent, said Blanken. The volume of rainfall on the Island can infiltrate the landfill and create leachate inside the area, causing fluctuations in gas collection. The ongoing upgrades to the landfill are meant to address those issues.

Liddy said methane gas supplies fluctuate in the landfill, so gas can’t be collected all the time. But when  the Phase 2 additions would increase the collection proficiency to between 78 and 100 per cent and gas is expected to be produced 80 to 90 per cent of the time.