As previously mentioned, I recently was elected a board member of the ZooShare Biogas Co-Operative in Toronto. It’s a social venture that’s trying to build an anaerobic digestion system at the Toronto Zoo that will turn animal poo, local kitchen grease and grocery store waste into biogas, which will be used to generate green electricity. The electricity produced from this 500 kilowatt plant will be sold to the province over the next 20 years under the feed-in-tariff program.
Funding for this project will come partly through the issuance of community bonds, which will pay a 6 to 7 per cent annual return over five years (and can be renewed). The hope is that the co-op can begin issuing these bonds to the public later this year. But to get to that stage we need a FIT contract, and to get a FIT contact we need a certain number of co-op members who are landowners in Toronto. Don’t ask me why you must be a landowner, or why you must be from Toronto, but that’s the rule.
So with this post I hope to attract some new Toronto-based members to the co-operative, hopefully before the end of September. The membership fee is $100 (one-time charge), and once the project is up and running and community bonds go on sale you can apply that $100 against your first bond purchase. For more info about the project check this story I wrote last year.
You can find out more information about membership by going to www.zooshare.ca or click here for Membership Form v.1.3.
I hope you can support this initiative. It’s a great local project with huge potential to be replicated around the world.
Summerhill Group, which is representing Ice Energy’s Ice Bear product in Canada, probably wishes the system has had more traction. Basically, the Ice Bear system uses off-peak electricity to create large blocks of ice, and then uses that ice during summer peak times to provide cooling — the idea being that it offsets the need to run air conditioners at times when electricity is most expensive. This is a great concept in California, where air conditioning is used year-round and where the gap between off-peak rates and peak rates is higher than in Ontario. This allows the user of Ice Bear to save quite a bit on electricity costs and pay off the system faster. Ontario, where hot summers are short and the time-of-use pricing isn’t as favourable presents a greater challege, but it’s obviously doable depending on the application. I know that Mountain Equipment Co-Op has a fairly sizable Ice Bear setup at one of its stores in Burlington. The latest project is at the Toronto Zoo, which in partnership with Toronto Hydro is using an Ice Bear system at its Tundra Trek Caribou Cafe to offset about 15-kilowatts of electricity that would otherwise be used for air conditioning. Not a big project, but interesting nonetheless.
The Toronto Zoo, the largest zoo in Canada and third-largest in the world, put out a request for proposals yesterday to build a large anaerobic digestion facility that will convert manure from elephants, giraffes and hundreds of other animals under its care into biogas. The plan is to burn the biogas to generate electricity — up to 5 megawatts — and use the waste heat from both the digester and the generation plant to heat zoo exhibits (offsetting more than $1 million of natural gas used by the zoo). This is just the latest biogas project to emerge in Toronto, which also plans to take methane from a large landfill, a major wastewater treatment plant, and two organic waste processing facilities to generate electricity, or alternatively, to fuel city transportation fleets. In all, biogas projects recently approved by the Ontario Power Authority under the province’s feed-in-tariff program, as well as projects in the pipeline, total well over 100 megawatts.
The Toronto Zoo, I should point out, isn’t just taking care of its own business. Only 2 per cent of its waste — a combo of animal manure, beddings and organic waste from on-site restaurants — will feed the digester. The rest will be a combination of organic waste from commercial and retail establishments in the surrounding community. Read the full story in the Toronto Star.