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.
As part of its efforts to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, drive economic efficiencies, and improve social outcomes, the city has been exploring how it can harness the green energy potential of the biogas and landfill gas produced at its solid waste management sites. Working with Enbridge Gas Inc., the city has installed a biogas upgrading facility at the Dufferin Solid Waste Management Services site. The new infrastructure will allow the City 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 by the city.
“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,” said Toronto Mayor John Tory. “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.”
As per the strategy that was approved by City Council 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.
“Producing renewable natural gas at the Dufferin Solid Waste Management Services site will reinforce the City’s position as a leader in sustainable solid waste management,” said Councillor Jennifer McKelvie (Scarborough-Rouge Park), chair of the city’s Infrastructure & Environment Committee. “By capturing, and using this renewable natural gas, we will decrease our reliance on fossil fuels and avoid releasing 9,000 tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere annually.”
This 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,” added Councillor James Pasternak (York Centre).
The city has also identified potential biogas/landfill gas upgrading opportunities at several other City waste facilities including the Disco Road Solid Waste Management Facility, Green Lane Landfill, and Keele Valley Landfill. All of the sites combined have the potential to produce enough gas to fuel the City’s entire natural gas needs annually (excluding City Agency, Boards and Commissions). The next facility to receive RNG infrastructure will be the Disco Road Solid Waste Management Facility, with plans to have the site up and running by the end of 2023.
“RNG presents a tremendous opportunity to decarbonize our economy more affordably by leveraging existing energy infrastructure, while at the same time stimulating regional economic development,” said Cynthia Hansen, executive vice president of Enbridge. “This initiative is a practical example of the many ways that natural gas, working as part of an integrated system, can collaborate in a net-zero carbon future.”
Featured image from City of Toronto: At the Dufferin Solid Waste Management Facility from right to left: Councillor James Pasternak, York Centre, with Mayor John Tory, Cynthia Hansen, Executive Vice President & President, Gas Distribution & Storage, Enbridge Gas Inc., and Councillor Jennifer McKelvie (Ward 25 Scarborough-Rouge Park).