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SAEWA picks preferred site for Energy from Waste facility

Thanks to a $400,000 grant from the Alberta Community Partnership program, 11 potential sites were identified last year with the Newell Regional Landfill recently announced at the top contender. 
The Francis Cooke Landfill in Exshaw does not accept municipal solid waste, so Bow Valley communities must ship their garbage to a landfill near Camrose. A new energy from waste project in Southern Alberta is hoping to provide municipalities with an alternative to landfills. RMO FILE PHOTO

EXSHAW – The Southern Alberta Energy-from-Waste facility is one step closer to becoming a reality after identifying a preferred site for operations.

Thanks to a $400,000 grant from the Alberta Community Partnership program, 11 potential sites were identified last year with the Newell Regional Landfill recently announced at the top contender. 

"I am very pleased to be part of the SAEWA organization and watch it get to this part. Last year we shortlisted three potential sites, they were all very good and any one of them would have made an excellent location but our study showed the Newell site to be preferred" Paul Ryan SAEWA vice-chair and project lead said. 

According to the SAEWA site, the county of Newell had the highest ranking for cost and constructability, environmental, social and cultural and land use.

The study noted the Newell site was furthest from residential areas, there are limited/no upgrades required to existing roadway infrastructure and the site was also furthest from the nearest water body with zero at-risk species identified within a one-kilometre radius.

The organization said all of the potential sites were reviewed on a constraints-based analysis looking at potential environmental impacts, site configuration, access to utilities, access to transportation, proximity to incompatible land uses, waste availability, potential energy users and transportation logistics.

Ryan said the next steps are to meet with all of the municipalities shortlisted and seek funding for a third-party analysis for the association's business case.

"We want to make sure we have a sound business case before move forward ... the project has been moving along nicely and we are getting a lot of provincial support which is encouraging," Ryan said.  

Based on the evaluation results, the County of Newell was identified as a preferred site, officials said, but if for any reason agreements cannot be achieved Vulcan County is also a strong contender.

Established in 2009, the non-profit SAEW association is a coalition of 60 municipal entities and waste management jurisdictions in southern Alberta with the mission to research and implement energy recovery from non-recyclable waste materials in order to reduce long-term reliance on landfills.

Energy recovery from waste can be done using technologies such as anaerobic digestion, gasification, combustion, or incineration with energy recovery.

Anaerobic digestion typically uses livestock waste decomposing the organic matter turning it into methane gas. Gasification can take wood and coal transforming the once garbage into a gaseous product which can be burned as fuel or further refined into liquid fuel. Incineration is the process of thermal destruction of selected waste, where heat recovered can be used to generate electricity or provide district heating.

Accepting all non-recycled materials, the Energy-from-Waste facility is estimated to reduce greenhouse gas emission by more than seven million tonnes over the life of the project, or approximately 236,000 tonnes per year.

Jenna Dulewich

About the Author: Jenna Dulewich

Jenna Dulewich is a national and provincial award-winning multi-media journalist. Joining the Rocky Mountain Outlook in 2019, she covers Stoney Nakoda, MD of Bighorn, Canmore and court.
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