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Innisfail exploring waste-to-energy project

Project would divert almost all municipal waste from landfill

Innisfail wants to see what the community thinks about a proposed waste-to-energy project that could divert up to 200,000 tonnes of garbage from landfills a year.

Edmonton’s Varme Energy, a subsidiary of Norway-based Green Transition Holding, pitched its proposal to Innisfail town council at its June 27 meeting.

Varme CEO Sean Collins said the $150- to $200-million Innisfail project would be designed to divert 100,000 to 200,000 tonnes of waste a year from landfills. It would employ 25 to 30 people full-time.

The project would give the town a “major opportunity to take a planet leadership position and achieve 100 per cent landfill diversion for Innisfail’s waste” while generating tax revenues.

Collins said virtually all municipal solid waste can be consumed in the facility.

“In general, this can take couches, it can take mattresses, furniture. There’s no real limitation on the waste.”

A key goal is ensuring there is enough waste committed to the plant, typically through five- to 10-year agreements. There have already been some discussions with other communities in the region, he said, adding they would be looking to draw waste from north of Calgary to south of Red Deer.

Council agreed to a letter of intent that will provide the company with “site-specific data” to increase the company’s working knowledge of the area and its potential as a waste-to-energy site.

The letter acknowledges Varme’s intent to buy land for its project and the town’s commitment to making its garbage available at the minimum pricing of current tipping fees. Varme and the town have also agreed to work together to pitch the project to regional partners and the provincial and federal governments.

On Aug. 25, the company will make a presentation on its proposal at a public meeting at the Innisfail Library and Learning Centre beginning at 5 p.m.

According to Varme’s website at, its process involves the combustion of waste in a low oxidation chamber at high temperatures which gasifies the waste. The process creates a syngas and an ash byproduct. The syngas enters a second boiler chamber where oxygen is injected and the temperature adjusted to create clean combustion and steam.

Steam is either super-heated or saturated to provide heat that can be used for heating or in industrial processes. There is also the potential to use the steam to power turbines to create electricity directly for customers or to feed the province’s power grid. Varme facilities are also designed to capture and sequester carbon underground.

Landfills are the third-largest sources of methane world-wide and emissions are expected to increase significantly by 2050, he said.

“This has created an opportunity for energy from waste being developed.”

Collins said the company uses proven low-emissions technology that exceeds all of the European Union’s emissions regulations. The company is very keen to invest in Canada, he said.

Innisfail’s project could be along similar lines to a $200-million, 150,000 tonne-per-year project that is expected to begin construction early next year in the United Kingdom.

The company also has two projects in the works in the Edmonton region and has been shortlisted for a $25 million subsidy through the federal government’s Low Carbon Economy Challenge program.

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