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Farmer-owned biogas plant showcases Canada's push for clean agtech

15 July 2021

Canada's Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Marie-Claude Bibeau, was on site at Coop Agri-Énergie Warwick, the first agricultural cooperative dedicated to the production of renewable energy in Quebec, to highlight an investment of up to $758,243, which supported the development of a cooperative agricultural biomethanizer plant.

Minister Bibeau highlighted the investment while touring the new eco-friendly plant, which brings together a dozen farmers from the Arthabaska MRC who produce renewable natural gas (RNG) from slurry and dairy cattle manure mixed with residual organic matter from surrounding farm businesses.

Coop Agri-Énergie Warwick expects that the new facility, which is currently in the start-up phase, will produce 2.3 million cubic meters of RNG each year. As a result, the organization estimates annual reductions of approximately 6,500 tonnes of CO2 equivalent, or the equivalent of removing 1,600 vehicles from the road.

Minister Bibeau highlighted the investment as an example of the kinds of projects the Government of Canada is seeking for the new $165.7-million Agricultural Clean Technology Program, which opened to applicants on 16 June.

Speaking at the facility, she said, "Agricultural producers are key partners in combatting climate change, and our Government is committed to supporting their efforts to reduce GHG emissions. I am very proud to support this initiative through the Agricultural Clean Technology Program, which aims to make Canada a world leader in this field. This project demonstrates that we can protect the planet while growing our farm businesses."

This new program provides farmers and agri-businesses with access to funding to help develop and adopt the latest clean technologies to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and enhance their competitiveness. It will prioritize projects in three areas including the bioeconomy, which employs technologies that use agricultural waste and by-products for energy and bio-product generation.

The new program has two funding streams:

  • The Adoption Stream supports the purchase and installation of proven clean technologies and solutions that show meaningful reductions in GHG emissions.
  • The Research and Innovation Stream supports pre-market innovation including research, development, demonstration and commercialization of agricultural clean technologies.

The Government of Canada's strengthened climate plan supports the development and adoption of cleaner practices and technologies that further reduce GHG emissions and protect the land, water and air that farmers depend on for their long-term sustainability.

Urs Studhalter, dairy farmer and President of Coop Agri-Énergie Warwick commented, "Our climate is changing, so is our agriculture. As farmers, we need to take an active part against climate change. Our project allows us to take concrete and exemplary action in this direction. Furthermore, by also becoming energy producers, we are diversifying our income, making ourselves even more resilient."

Background

Agricultural biomethanization, such as the Warwick model, reduces greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by capturing methane from manure that would otherwise be released during storage in agricultural pits. Coop Agri-Énergie Warwick has partnered with Coop Carbone, a non-profit organization engaged to act in the face of climate emergency, that initiated the project and is in charge of its implementation and daily operations.

The Coop Agri-Énergie Warwick initiative also brings economic and social benefits, such as production of value-added organic fertilizer, which reduces the cost of mineral fertilizer purchases for producers. The biomethanization process also significantly reduces the odour load associated with the spreading of raw manure. This investment into Coop Agri-Énergie came from the original Agricultural Clean Technology Program, a $25-million, three-year (2018-2021) investment to support research, development and adoption of clean technologies through investments in, and promotion of precision agriculture and agri-based bioproducts.



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