Toronto will produce renewable natural gas from Green Bin organic waste

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Ontario Construction News staff writer

The City of Toronto will start producing renewable gas (RNG) from Green Bin organic waste and injecting it into the natural gas grid in the coming weeks.

The project was announced this week at the Dufferin Solid Waste Management where a biogas upgrading facility has been installed by Enbridge Gas to take the raw biogas produced from processing Green Bin organics, turn it into RNG and inject it into the natural gas grid for use.

“This project represents a path to low-carbon fuel for the city and will play an important role in helping us reach our TransformTO goal of becoming net zero by 2050 or sooner,” Mayor John Tory said at the announcement ceremony. “Climate action remains a top priority for Toronto, with climate change and resilience identified as one of the focuses of the City’s COVID-19 recovery and rebuild work.”

According to a strategy approved by last year, the RNG produced will be blended with the natural gas that the city buys to create a low-carbon fuel blend that will be used across the organization to power vehicles and heat city-owned facilities, allowing for a reduction in GHG emissions citywide.

The production of RNG from biogas has the environmental benefit of closing the carbon loop by capturing the biogas produced (instead of flaring/burning it off), upgrading the biogas to RNG pipeline quality, and then using it to displace a fossil fuel with a renewable green fuel.

The Dufferin RNG facility is expected to produce 3.3 million cubic metres of RNG each year. This will result in a fuel blend that is approximately 7 per cent RNG. By capturing the biogas instead of flaring/burning it off, the facility will also avoid more than 9,000 tonnes of carbon being released into the atmosphere annually. The city will not start using the gas until the beginning of 2022, to ensure production capacity has stabilized. Until then, the gas will be stored in the grid.

The project is one of the first of its kind in North America and supports the city’s TransformTO Climate Action Strategy, Net Zero Carbon Plan for city Buildings, Long Term Waste Management Strategy and goal of becoming Ontario’s first city with a circular economy.

“This facility is an important investment in green infrastructure. We are thrilled that green molecules of RNG will be produced in York Centre and that our very own Dufferin Organics Processing Facility is taking lead in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions,” said councillor James Pasternak.

The city currently consumes 50 million cubic metres of NG annually, and the city’s Agencies, Boards and Commissions (ABCs) consume an additional 60 million cubic metres of NG annually, for a combined total consumption of 110 million cubic metres annually. Incorporating RNG into the mix will allow the city to create a low-carbon fuel blend that will be used to fuel city vehicles and heat city facilities. If landfill gas/biogas upgrading is realized at all four sites that the city has identified, the result would be enough renewable gas to fulfill the city’s entire natural gas needs annually.

Biogas upgrading helps achieve the goals of the city’s TransformTO Climate Action Strategy, specifically the goal of becoming net zero by 2050 or sooner and the goal of generating 1.5 million gigajoules of energy from biogas by 2030. It also supports the Net Zero Carbon Plan for City Buildings and the city’s Long Term Waste Management Strategy and aim of becoming the first city in Ontario with a circular economy.

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