In BC, Old Leftovers (And More) Become Power

The practice of turning organic waste – yard trimmings and food scraps and the like – into energy is being taken to new heights in British Columbia with the official launch of a plant that the developers said is “the largest commercial-scale high solids anaerobic digester in North America.”

Harvest Power is behind the Energy Garden, in Richmond, B.C., with help from the city of Richmond, BC Hydro, Metro Vancouver and various haulers, landscapers and residents.

anaerobic digester harvest power

Energy Garden & Composting Facility, Richmond, B.C. (image via Harvest Power)

Those “other” participants are key to the project, too, since the compost and energy that the Energy Garden produces – enough to power around 900 homes – starts as waste matter that goes to the plant and not into the trash. Or as Harvest Power CEO Paul Sellew put it in a statement, “We see an organic cycle of energy and nutrients: a pizza crust from last night’s dinner gets turned into power today, and soil that grows tomatoes in tomorrow’s garden.”

There seems to be a steady increase unfolding in the use of anaerobic digesters, which can tackle several challenges at one time. Not only can they cut the amount of crud going into landfills, they can, as the Energy Garden is demonstrating, produce soil amendments and power, with biogas being used to fuel an engine generator for creating renewable electricity and heat (alternatively, it can be upgraded and fed into a natural gas pipeline, or compressed into vehicle fuel (CNG)).

We recently wrote about an anaerobic digester being built in Turtle Lake, Wis., that every day will turn 500,000 gallons of mostly dairy wastewater into electricity, putting out up to 3.2 megawatts in addition to process heat and fertilizer. And Kroger earlier this year said it would install an anaerobic digester at the busy Ralphs/Food 4 Less distribution center in Compton, Calif., that would process more than 55,000 tons of organic food waste into enough power to too meet one-fifth the needs of the 650,000-square-foot distribution center.

The new facility in British Columbia has the capacity to convert up to 40,000 tonnes (that’s 88 million pounds) of food and yard waste per year from area homes, businesses, restaurants and supermarkets into clean energy and compost, Harvest Power said.

 

 

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.

  • ted

    San Francisco’s goal is to become zero waste by 2025 – former Mayor Gavin Newsom’s idea and dream. We can adopt that mentality and put it to practice all around the country and world. People are just lazy, selfish and don’t care.

    • UnionLeague

      Reprocessed organic matter is a very valuable resource. It’s not good for OPEC or the oil companies though. LOL

      • ted

        Good point. But, us green folks don’t give a rat’s ass what the OPEC wants 🙂 We fight for the greater cause: mother earth and the little creatures that roam it (I’m going to exclude humans as they’re destructive bastards).

        Have a great weekend UnionLeague

        • UnionLeague

          So true!! Cheers!