2016 FCM Sustainable Communities Awards — Waste Program
WINNER: City of Saint-Hyacinthe, QC
A pioneering project in biomethanation
The City of Saint-Hyacinthe took the lead in completing all the research and development for its biomethanation project to produce biogas from waste. The project, completed without external consultants, is a first in Quebec and one of the first in North America.
Read the case study below to learn about project highlights, as well as the challenges and lessons learned that can help your community in planning a similar project.
About the project
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To manage its organic waste and sewage sludge from water treatment locally, Saint-Hyacinthe undertook a biomethanation project. By constructing a new facility and working with local partners, the city now converts waste from the brown bins of citizens in 23 municipalities and from agri-food businesses into natural gas that can be used to heat buildings and operate vehicle fleets at low cost.
Biomethanation is a stable, environmentally responsible and economic way of generating natural gas. In addition, the municipality produces a surplus of natural gas that it sells to the Gaz Métro utility. In just a few years, Saint-Hyacinthe will recoup the cost of building its organic waste and biomethanation plants.
With this initiative, Saint-Hyacinthe has proven that a municipality can lead and complete all stages of a large-scale biomethanation project, acquire the necessary technical skills, and even make the project profitable.
"We were faced with an environmental issue of how to dispose of sewage sludge and other organic matter. We solved the problem by using both to make energy."
- Saint-Hyacinthe began its project before Quebec's biomethanation standards were developed. The municipality had to develop benchmarks in conjunction with the Quebec government. This facilitated the development of standards for future similar projects in Quebec.
- Biomethanation technology was not readily available in Canada, so Saint-Hyacinthe conducted in-depth research in Europe, and transferred the knowledge and acquired equipment from the United States and Europe.
- Be inspired — Saint-Hyacinthe's experience shows that municipalities can complete large projects at an affordable cost.
- Use internal resources to significantly reduce total project costs. This approach means that project schedules and funds invested can be carefully monitored, allowing better control over expenditures and deadlines.
- Get started with biomethanation projects by visiting other facilities, seeking support from local and regional stakeholders and maintaining regular contact with authorities and citizens.
Advisor, Knowledge Services, FCM