Quebec ag co-op to power up on dairy cattle manure

About a dozen Quebec dairy farms will be getting their collective manure together next year for the province’s first-ever ag co-operative devoted to renewable natural gas.

Coop Agri-Energie Warwick, launched Monday, plans to start construction this spring on a $12 million biomethanization plant which will take in slurry and manure from dairy cattle mixed with other local businesses’ “residual organic matter.”

The new co-op — set up and run by Quebec City-based Coop Carbone — and its plant, due to start operating this fall, “will allow a dozen farmers to diversify their income streams while reducing their (greenhouse gas) emissions,” organizers said in a release.

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The plant is expected to have capacity to produce 2.3 million cubic metres of renewable natural gas per year, which would cut greenhouse gas emissions by 6,500 tonnes of carbon dioxide-equivalent, roughly on par with taking 1,500 cars off the road, the co-op said.

The project is expected to take in about 25,000 tonnes of farm slurry and manure per year for treatment, along with about 25,000 tonnes of agri-food wastes and municipal and industrial sludge, according to federal agency CED (Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions) in a separate release Monday.

Montreal-based Energir, formerly known as Gaz Metro, said Monday it has signed a 20-year agreement to buy all natural gas produced by the Warwick co-operative, to be routed into the company’s natural gas distribution network.

The provincial government on Monday pledged $3 million for the Warwick project from its Technoclimat program. Another $1.7 million will be put up as a repayable federal contribution from CED.

Quebec Environment Minister Benoit Charette on Monday described the planned system as “a doubly green technology that advances Quebec in its fight against climate change.”

Also, he said, the process will provide “good-quality, locally-produced fertilizing materials” as a byproduct for use by local crop producers, “thus closing the loop.”

Jean Nolet, CEO of Coop Carbone — a not-for-profit co-op set up to support emissions-reducing ventures — said the model for the Warwick co-op “demonstrates the importance and relevance of agriculture’s place in the energy transition, and in developing biomethanization in Quebec.” — Glacier FarmMedia Network

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