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Ontarians are turning poop into power

Renee Tratch
Digital Writer, theweathernetwork.com

Wednesday, August 13, 2014, 11:43 AM - ZooShare Biogas Co-operative Inc., a non-profit renewable energy co-operative, announced plans last year for a 500-kilowatt biogas plant at the Toronto Zoo that would recycle zoo poo and food waste into renewable power for the Ontario grid.

And they asked Ontarians to help build it.

SEE ALSO: Counting down to greener games

The province’s new source of clean energy - and North America’s first zoo-biogas plant - is Canada’s first to be community-owned. Through the sale of bonds, ZooShare members co-finance the construction portion of the project. So far, they are almost halfway to their $2.2 million goal.

For Daniel Bida, ZooShare Executive Director, the environmental impact of the investment is a powerful one. “Every year that we operate and divert organic waste from landfills into biogas production, we’re removing the equivalent of 2,100 cars from the road.”

The plant in Canada will take the yearly output of zoo manure (about 3,000 tonnes) plus 14,000 tonnes of inedible food waste from a yet-to-be announced grocery store retailer and turn it into heat, fertilizer and electricity that could provide power to about 250 Ontario homes for a year.

“From a scientific perspective a biogas facility is both a mechanical and biological entity that operates very much like a big concrete stomach,” explains Bida.

A 60-day process in a “digester” set at the same temperature as a cow’s stomach (30 degrees Celsius) produces the biogas that is then cleaned through filters and burned in a generator to create electricity for the Ontario grid.

The total project cost is $5.4 million. Preliminary agreements from multiple lenders are secured for the remaining $3.2 million, while current expenses have been covered by early-stage investors and grants. With permits being put into place this year, ZooShare aims to break ground by next summer and be operational by end of 2015.

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