Renewable Energy Project Inches Forward

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In the 2018 Budget, Council allocated $5,000 for a feasibility study evaluating the economic potential of a community based bio-digester.  Following a presentation to Council by Kawartha RNG on their project in Havelock, Staff and Council focussed their discussions on a potential project that produces renewable natural gas (RNG).

During the research it became clear that further investigation relating to the mechanics of carbon harvesting processes from crops and its impact on soil health was required.  As a municipally-sponsored project, another key criterion to justify such an undertaking would be its ability to act as an economic driver for the local agricultural community.

The Mayor, Deputy Mayor and staff met with Dr. Shaojun Li from the Biology Department at Trent University. Dr. Li noted that RNG produced from anaerobic digestion of agriculture biomass is limited by a number of factors and suggested that technological innovation would be necessary to allow the project to meet the township’s criteria.  He recommended a feasibility study be conducted to address these issues and evaluate the feasibility of combining both anaerobic and thermochemical gasification processes.

Staff also met with a representative from the Federation of Agriculture who recommended exploring a business case to use a combination of energy crops, agricultural wastes and manures, and organic wastes to generate biogas which would be refined to produce RNG.  Such a study could be eligible for funding under the Green Municipal fund under the Transportation and Fuel Efficiency Initiative available under the umbrella of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM).

Access to these grants is challenging due to the high volume and quality of applications with requests stemming from energy, transportation, waste and water sectors are all vying for funds from the same envelope.  Staff has begun the Initial Review Phase of the application process through FCM which will be followed by a more detailed evaluation process should it succeed.  Due to the complexity of the project, it was also recommended that the Township consider hiring a part-time project facilitator to assist in administering the project and work with Trent University to conduct research to determine the project’s feasibility, and to conduct an energy audit.

Council agreed to roll the $5,000 allocation for the project from the 2018 Capital budget to the 2019 Capital budget when there is a possibility of matching funding from FCM or to explore in-kind or matching donations from other partner organizations.  KG

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