Norwegian company hopes to generate energy, capture carbon from Alberta garbage


A Norwegian clear power improvement company is betting large on Alberta because the place to mix its waste-to-energy expertise with a way of capturing carbon and storing it underground.

Varme Energy, which was included in Edmonton this summer time, needs to arrange amenities in Alberta that use Aitos gasification expertise, a two-step combustion course of owned by its mother or father company that is been utilized in waste-to-energy amenities in Norway for greater than a decade.

Through this course of, waste that was headed for landfill as an alternative is transformed into steam that can be utilized for district heating, industrial processes or put by a turbine to generate energy. 

“You’re actually diverting the [garbage] vans, as an alternative of going and dumping on the landfill, they arrive and dump right into a facility like ours,” mentioned Sean Collins, CEO of Varme Energy, a subsidiary of Norway’s Green Transition Holding. 

Varme hopes to make a revenue whereas additionally making a dent within the rising piles of trash despatched to municipal landfills, that are collectively answerable for about 23 per cent of the nation’s methane emissions and will be pricey and time-consuming to construct. 

Enerkem, a Montreal-based company with an Edmonton facility pictured right here, turns waste into biofuels and chemical compounds. (Samuel Martin/CBC)

Garbage is already became electrical energy in different components of Canada. Brampton, Ont., is dwelling to the Emerald Energy From Waste facility, and each Burnaby, B.C., and Courtice, Ont., have waste-to-energy amenities operated by the New Jersey-based Covanta. In Burnaby, the ability takes in a couple of quarter of Metro Vancouver’s trash. 

Others, like Montreal-based Enerkem, use waste to generate biofuels or chemical compounds, moderately than power. That company has a facility in Edmonton and one other deliberate in Varennes, Que. 

But Collins says Varme’s amenities could be the primary in Canada to each generate power from waste, and to capture the surplus carbon and retailer it underground, a course of that is been piloted in Norway, however has not but been examined in Canada.

Carbon capture potential

The company determined to arrange store in Alberta partially due to the province’s geology, which is a number of the greatest on the planet for storing carbon. It’s a marked distinction from Norway, the place carbon should be transported to the coast and piped beneath the ocean mattress, in accordance to Andreas Karlsen. 

“I’d name [Alberta] floor zero for carbon capture globally, and that is why we wish to focus a number of our capital in constructing our crops in Canada,” mentioned Karlsen, who’s head of power from waste with Green Transition Holding, which owns Aitos gasification expertise and a portfolio of different corporations.

Sean Collins is CEO of Varme Energy, a Canadian subsidiary of Green Transition Holding AS in Norway. (Submitted by Rory Wheat)

Varme has its preliminary sights set on amenities in Edmonton, the close by industrial heartland and Innisfail, Alta.

Jean Barclay, mayor of Innisfail, has signed a letter of intent with Varme in help of the company’s work, although she mentioned different municipalities would want to sign on to contribute waste to make the venture work.

“We’ll see the place it goes, however I’m fairly enthusiastic about seeing what comes of it,” she mentioned. 

Long-term push for waste-to-energy

Meanwhile, one other group in southern Alberta has been slowly choosing away on the strategy of constructing a waste-to-energy plant since 2009.

Tom Grant is the mayor of Vulcan, a city about 130 kilometres south of Calgary, and chair of the Southern Alberta Energy from Waste Association. He mentioned landfilling has at all times been the default in Alberta and in lots of components of Canada as a result of “we have a lot land, and land is affordable and we are able to bury it, conceal it.” 

Vulcan County is a municipal district south of Calgary, Alta. (Elise von Scheel/CBC)

“But ultimately, it is going to come again to haunt us,” he mentioned, noting that some municipalities have had to dig up their landfills after waste has leached into the groundwater. 

In the final decade, Grant’s group, which consists of about 50 municipalities, has spent about $1.5 million {dollars} on engineering research and assessments, one in all which concerned digging by trash to get a greater thought of what is piling up within the landfills. Now they’ve chosen a location for the venture, and are narrowing down which company will construct and function it.

“There’s a number of rules that we now have to observe to construct one which’s correct and construct one which’s performed appropriately,” he mentioned. 

“We need to do it proper and that is why it is taken so lengthy.”

A mock-up reveals Varme Energy’s design for waste-to-energy crops in Canada. (Submitted by Andreas Karlsen)

While Varme just isn’t within the operating (the company says it wasn’t operational by the point the RFP course of closed), Grant mentioned he is glad to see extra corporations get into the sector — so long as they will ship what they promise. 

“In the previous we now have seen the place corporations come alongside they usually promise you one thing they usually sign you up after which they can not fulfil the promise, after which it makes it unhealthy for everyone else that comes alongside which might be legit.”

Opinions fluctuate on expertise

The stage of help for the waste-to-energy business can fluctuate throughout the nation. 

Invest Alberta, a Crown company that helps appeal to worldwide buyers to the province, offers the sector a vote of confidence.

“Bringing revolutionary and confirmed waste-to-energy amenities to Alberta contributes to the expansion of Alberta’s clear power sector and helps fulfil Canada’s dedication to lowering methane and GHG emissions,” mentioned Stacie Lara, power funding director with Invest Alberta. 

“There is important potential to develop Canada’s waste-to-energy market with improvements and partnerships which might be beginning proper right here in Alberta.” 

Andreas Karlsen is head of power from waste with Norwegian company Green Transition Holding, which owns a portfolio of corporations in energy-from-waste, bio-energy district heating and carbon capture and storage. (Submitted by Rory Wheat)

For its half, Alberta’s Ministry of Environment and Parks says it helps the method of turning waste into power, although solely in conditions the place supplies have excessive warmth worth and there are not any viable recycling choices accessible. 

The federal authorities has a extra measured opinion of waste-to-energy applied sciences. 

In an announcement to CBC, a spokesperson for Environment and Climate Change Canada mentioned whereas waste administration choices are usually made at a neighborhood or provincial stage, the federal precedence is first to scale back waste, then to get better worth after the very fact, to scale back the necessity for remaining disposal. 

“While waste-to-energy performs a task in plastic waste administration, these processes are decrease on the waste hierarchy,” mentioned the assertion, which famous the federal government has commissioned a research of waste-to-energy expertise that is anticipated to wrap up subsequent March. 

For now, Collins mentioned Varme’s precedence is to search long-term waste commitments for its amenities, which goal to course of between 100,000 to 200,000 tons of waste per yr. He additionally famous the company sees itself as a complement to composting and recycling, equivalent to an choice for merchandise which might be contaminated, moderately than as a contest. 

As for Grant, the mayor of Vulcan, he continues to push forward together with his long-time purpose to construct a waste-to-energy facility in southern Alberta. He hopes that when the primary has been constructed, it is going to be simpler for the second and third to get off the bottom.

“My lofty purpose could be to see no landfilling performed within the province of Alberta,” he mentioned. 


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