In an effort to make the Ontario natural gas market a leader in the biogas sector, the Government of Ontario announced it will launch consultations to identify potential changes that would allow farmers to expand emerging renewable natural gas.
Biogas is created by breaking down organic waste in an anaerobic digester. In farming, organic waste for biogas can be generated from agricultural waste, like manure. Biogas can be compressed to generate renewable natural gas, electricity or heat – the same way as natural gas is compressed to CNG -nand can even be used to power motor vehicles. Currently, there are over 40 agri-food anaerobic digesters in Ontario, mostly found on farms.
The government of Ontario hopes that the consultations will bring forth changes that will ultimately reduce red tape and grow untapped economic opportunities for farm’s biogas operations.
In a news release, Ontario’s Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Ernie Hardeman commented, “These consultations will focus on identifying potential changes that would enable the biogas sector to access new markets for renewable natural gas through red tape reduction. We want these consultations to pinpoint potential changes that could enable Ontario’s $35 million dollar-a-year biogas sector to grow by up to 50 per cent over the next five years.”
Much like natural gas, biogas is considered to be a clean resource because it generates no net carbon dioxide. The organic material is converted and used as it grows and then regrows in a continually repeating cycle.
According to the governments’ announcement, the consultations will look at opportunities to enable biogas upgrading to produce renewable natural gas on-farm, ways to streamline approvals, and requirements for off-farm and agricultural feedstocks.
The changes in rules could also help Ontario food processors, providing an alternative to landfill disposal that could potentially save businesses millions of dollars while reducing the carbon footprint from gases. The government will encourage the return of organic materials to agricultural land to build soil health and fertility for crop production.
Ontario recently enacted the Better for People, Smarter for Business Act, which was proposed to streamline requirements and eliminate unnecessary regulations for businesses in Ontario. By reducing the regulatory burden for farmers to process food and organic waste using anaerobic digesters, it would provide solutions to some of the challenges outlined in the Act