Proposed waste-to-energy project in Sylvan Lake could take two years

Proposed waste-to-energy project in Sylvan Lake could take two years

Fogdog Energy process converts municipal garbage into a carbon fluff that can be turned into fuel

Regulatory red tape could mean a waste-to-energy project proposed for Sylvan Lake is not ready to go for up to two years.

Calgary-based Fogdog Energy plans to build a facility that uses friction heat to convert municipal garbage into a carbon fluff that can be sent to a processing plant to be turned into hydrocarbon fuels such as diesel and gasoline. About 98 per cent of the town’s waste could be recycled.

Almost all waste — except for glass and metals, which would be recycled separately — can be converted using the process. Water produced by the process can irrigate farmland.

The first phase will have the capacity to convert 50 tonnes of waste per day. Sylvan Lake generates 15 tonnes per day on average.

In July, Sylvan Lake council conditionally agreed to go ahead with the project after the technology checked out and financial risks were addressed.

Fogdog tweaked its proposal to up-front the estimated $400,000 cost of developing the site next to the town’s waste transfer site where the plant would be located. Initially, it was proposed the town cover those costs and recoup them later through lease fees and operational savings.

Among the conditions for Fogdog was that all regulatory requirements be met, which led to a reality check.

Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) requires a full environmental review before approval will be considered for Fogdog’s proposal to operate a No Landfill Disposal Facility (NDLF).

It is expected to take four months to complete an application and up to a year before approval is granted.

“Once approval from AEP has been obtained, contract approval from council will then be required followed by the construction process, which will take up to eight months,” says a report to council from town staff.

“This significantly delays the NDLF project by a period of up to two years.”

Given that delay, town council has opted to go ahead with a project to introduce automated recycling collection using roll-out carts provided to homeowners. That project had been put on hold when Fogdog came forward with its proposal

The plan now is to introduce a Blue Cart recycle program beginning Oct. 2 and will see bi-weekly collection of recyclables using 240-litre carts emptied by an automated collection vehicle. The program replaces the existing weekly Green Box system.

“We just couldn’t delay and not provide current (recycling) services to residents,” said town communications officer Joanne Gaudet.

A two-year contract will also be signed to continue providing the usual garbage pickup service. That contract is expected to be cheaper than a previously proposed month-to-month contract extension with the town’s existing waste services contractor.

“We’ve got more than enough of a window to run a satisfactory (garbage) program,” said Gaudet. “We’re not increasing rates.”

If Fogdog gets up and running sooner than expected it will be required to adjust its operation to mesh with the existing waste contract.

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