Biogas

Biogas is a methane rich, renewable and naturally occurring gas that is created by organic material when it is broken down in an oxygen-free chamber. The gas is used to produce electricity and heat, with compost as a by-product. Biogas can be cleaned and upgraded to be used in place of natural gas.

Process

Studies

In 2015, Yukon Energy and Yukon Research Centre hired WSP Canada to do a feasibility study for developing a biogas facility in Whitehorse, at the city’s compost facility at the municipal landfill.

The study looked at biogas technologies that could handle 3,000 tonnes per year of organic waste. It considered a 0.1 MW plant sized for the amount of material currently available. It also anticipated adding a second 0.1 MW unit in 2020 when organic diversion rates are expected to increase given the City of Whitehorse’s programs and targets.

The feedstock analyzed for this study included residential and industrial organics, and garden waste.

In other jurisdictions, sewage sludge from waste water treatment plants is often used in biogas plants. We did not consider sewage sludge for this concept, because Whitehorse does not have a sewage treatment plant, the location of the sewage lagoon is far from the compost facility, and there are potential concerns with having bio-solids in a compost end product.

Technical and Financial Findings

Annual Energy Firm Energy Installed Capacity Dependable Capacity Levelized Cost of Energy Levelized Cost of Capacity Project Life In-service Lead Time
GWh/yr GWh/yr MW MW $/kWh $/kW yr Years Years

Option #1

Whitehorse

0.44 – 1.03 0.44 – 1.03 0.1 – 0.2 0.1 – 0.2 $0.97 $2,844 20 2

Energy

Capacity

Evaluation

Aquatic environment Most favourable
Terrestrial environment Most favourable
Air quality Somewhat favourable
First Nation lands Most favourable
Traditional lifestyle Most favourable
Heritage resources Most favourable
Tourism/recreation/other land uses Most favourable
Cultural/community well-being Most favourable
Local economic benefits Least favourable
Climate change risk Most favourable
  •  Most favourable
  •  Somewhat favourable
  •  Least favourable

Notes

Biogas generation is seldom economic without the sale of heat. Of the energy produced in a biogas plant, only around 35 percent is converted to electricity. There is currently no viable market for the heat. That is one reason the Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE) shown on the graph on the previous page does not include heat sales or gate fees. The other reason is to provide consistency with the other options in the 2016 Resource Plan.

Electricity only: $0.97/kWh

Electricity and heat: $0.65/kWh

Current cost of electricity to Yukon homeowners is approximately $0.14/kWh.

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Initial key findings

Pros

Minimal environmental impacts

Cons

Expensive compared to other options

Limited energy and capacity

Limited fuel supply

 Need to sell heat as well as electricity