|I had the bus at the ready, when my group was marching up this morning. Our first destination was the Lethbridge Biogas Plant. Have you ever wondered what happens with road kill or dead farm animals or even their manure? Here, in Alberta, they have deloped a project facility which can take care of all of this. |
When the trucks coming in on a daily basis they unload their smelly freight into a grinder, from where the mass will be pushed into a digester. And even though this sounds pretty easy, it is not. The necessary technology has been hauled across the Atlantic from Germany. But Alberta firms have contributed with their part, so it is an outstanding example of an International cooperation. This facility is actively helping surrounding dairy and hog operations to get rid of their manure, which, if spread in its entirety would lead to a run-off pollution. But that’s not all, What the Biogas Plant is interested in is extraction of the gases. After doing that they are actually delivering a fertilizer back to the farms. Only at now the stuff contains a lot less phosphorus, which is not good for the environment if spread in too big amounts. Furthermore it has reduced the bad odours. Future plans contain a pellet plant, which will turn the product in a sellable commodity.
But what happens with all that bio gas? Well, it is being fed into a giant 1800hp engine which in turn produces electric power. That power is currently supplied into the grid. The initiative came from surrounding farms and involved (naturally) a lot of Red Tape. Truly an interesting project which today produces about 4.3Megawatt of power.
From the company’s website: Lethbridge Biogas will be a full scale biogas cogeneration project fueled by organics comprised of agricultural manures and food processing wastes. Situated in the County of Lethbridge Rave Industrial Park, Lethbridge Biogas has more than the required amounts of organic “fuel” available within 15 km. Generating electrical and thermal energy through the anaerobic digestion of organics reduces greenhouse gases significantly. Odors are reduced by up to 75 per cent using an innovative biological air treatment system. This facility will be the first to incorporate patented thermal hydrolysis technology approved by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency for the destruction of prions that cause BSE in cattle. - See more at: http://ccemc.ca/project/lethbridge-biogas-biogas-cogeneration-project/#sthash.VrDKQrpo.dpuf
Besides of having tons of German-made components in their plant they have also hired German engineers, one of which I met and had a little chat with.
The afternoon was spent in a different place, namely the Taber Wind Farm. This 39 wind-turbine facility is literally way out in the middle of nowhere. The turbines are 90m high and theand The big generator
their blades are 40m. We, or course, had a little orientation inside one of the turbine tower. Even I would have loved the view from the top, we stayed confined to the bottom floor. Again the technology was brought over from Europe, namely Denmark and Germany. It was quite impressive to feel all that technology and the huge turbine blades over top of us. Just by pressing a little button on the control panel, the engineer stopped the blades from turning. While there was an ear splitting noise inside the tower when the turbine was still running it became very quiet after it stopped. Also, the blades have been fitted with a little end wing, kind of like you see at the end of airplane wings. That little gimmick has actually reduced the outside swishing noise level.
I wouldn’t want to live too close to those monsters at the turning blades are throwing shadows on the ground which be very disturbing to humans.
While alternative energy is being researched, some people also work with SAVING energy by f.ex. building energy efficient homes. And that was the last show of the day, when we drove into the little village of Coalhurst where we sure made the neighbours stick their heads together, wondering what this big bus was doing in their quiet little street. Interestingly there was another German at work with this company.
Overall, this was a very interesting day for everybody and again I’m feeling lucky being able to see all this and even being paid.
Tomorrow we will be heading back to Calgary from where the delegates, all Alberta teachers, start going home again.
More bus rides are already stapled up for me. Seems like I will be very busy.