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Innisfail waste-to-energy project remains on track

Varme Energy hopes to divert up to 200,000 tonnes of waste from landfills to Innisfail plant

A proposed waste-to-energy project proposed for Innisfail continues to make headway.

Edmonton-based Varme Energy is behind the project $150 to$200 million project to divert 100,000 to 200,000 tonnes of waste a year from landfills. The company also plans to capture and store excess carbon underground.

Varme Energy is the Canadian subsidiary of Green Transition Holdings, a Norway-based company with extensive experience developing waste-to-energy facilities in Europe. It plans to use its international experience to develop waste-to-energy facilities in Canada.

Varme Energy CEO Sean Collins recently gave Innisfail town council an update on the company’s Alberta projects, which also includes a plant in the Industrial Heartland near Edmonton. (carbon capture and storage integration

Collins said a study is underway for the Alberta projects to get more accurate price tags.

“We kicked that off in December and are expecting that to complete that in May. Most of our costing estimates to date have been based on experience in building in Europe.”

A short list of six construction partners has been created and Norwegian engineers from Varme will be travelling to Alberta to meet with those company representatives.

“So far, we have been very, very pleasantly surprised at the level of interest from the engineering and construction industry in these projects.”

In a significant financial development, the Norwegian federal government has provided a letter of intent to provide a 50 per cent loan guarantee for the Alberta projects.

Talks are also underway with Canadian bankers.

Last November, Varme Energy and Ermineskin-owned Neyaskweyahk Group of Companies announced a joint working agreement to become an equity partner in the company’s initiatives.

Ermineskin Cree is also the largest shareholder in the First Nations Bank of Canada, which is providing corporate banking services to Varme.

Collins said the project has been moving ahead quickly, adding “having the Norwegian federal government support is really material.

“The overall corporate and capital interest has been extremely strong, I would say.”

There has also been significant media interest in the company’s plans. “I think the overall level of interest in what we’re doing is exceeding my expectations significantly.”

Meanwhile, efforts to continue to line up commitments from communities to provide their waste.

Collins said the “waste chase” is one of the biggest challenges. The City of Calgary has been approached to provide its garbage for Innisfail and private providers are another option being pursued.

A presentation was made late last year with 20 central Alberta mayors and later met with Blackfalds and Rocky Mountain House town councils.

Those two communities and Innisfail would provide about 40 per cent of the waste needed for the project.

There is also interest being shown by potential customers for the electricity provided by the waste-to-energy plant.

The project might also be linked to Innisfail’s proposed aquatic centre by providing power or heat. When in full operation, the plant could potentially provide enough energy in fours hours to heat the pool for a month.

Collins said he expects to provide council another update in the next three or four months.

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