PRRD hires firm to conduct study on turning transfer station waste into energy

Mike Carter, Chetwynd Echo


FORT ST. JOHN – The Peace River Regional District is looking for new ways to turn old waste into energy.

The regional board has commissioned Waterloo, Ontario-based Conestoga-Rovers & Associates to conduct a partnership study that will investigate and identify potential long-term partners, including industry, for a waste-to-energy project.

The estimated cost of the study is $10,000.

Waste-to-energy is the process of generating energy in the form of electricity and/or heat from the incineration of waste that would normally be left in a landfill.

“It’s an alternative to burying waste is what it is,” explained Deputy Chief Administrative Officer Shannon Anderson.

The PRRD’s solid waste management committee has been looking into the potential for a waste-to-energy plant for some time.

“For the amount of waste we generate [in the region]… the results of that indicate that we just simply don’t have enough waste for the technologies that are available today.

“You need far more waste to make these things work,” Anderson concluded.

As a result of these revelations, the PRRD has made this particular study about finding high volume waste generating partners – such as the various industrial activity sites in the region – that might be interested in contributing their waste to the proposed facility.

All of the waste-to-energy plants in countries that are members of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), incinerate their commercial, industrial or refuse derived fuels such as plastics and biodegradable wastes.

These facilities must meet strict emissions standards for nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxide, heavy metals and dioxins. Because of this, modern incineration plants are vastly different from their older counterparts.

This method of converting municipal solid waste to energy is a new twist on an old concept, in which waste is burnt to boil water, which powers steam generators that make electric energy and heat to be used in homes, businesses, institutions and industries.

A study by the Danish Ministry of Environment found that incinerators may emit fine particulate, heavy metals, trace dioxin and acid gas, but that these emissions were low.

Some of the highest recycling countries on the planet are in Europe, wit some recycle up to 70 per cent of their waste. They also incinerate their residual waste to avoid land filling.

“There are many different technologies that I am not that well versed in,” Anderson admits, “but basically that’s what it is. Using the waste to create -in this particular instance, a steam powered generator that produces electricity.”

The study will be conducted over the next few months and the results will be made public when available.