Excess heat, carbon dioxide capture powering Canada’s most efficient greenhouse
In considering the best location to grow produce in Canada, Saint-Félicien, situated at a latitude of 48.65° north and about 280 kilometres north of Quebec City, would not necessarily be the first place to come to mind. Yet the town is now home to the Toundra Greenhouse project, which currently produces some 45 million cucumbers per year and aims to contribute to making Quebec self-sufficient and reduce high-carbon footprint imports.
The Toundra Greenhouse partnership, formed in 2014, started with a feasibility study for building a greenhouse and many other studies undertaken by the City of Saint-Félicien. It soon attracted local investors in Quebec’s Lac-Saint-Jean region and Resolute Forest Products, which donated 45 hectares of land adjacent to its Saint-Félicien pulp mill as the site for the greenhouse.
Resolute also committed to supplying enough hot water from the mill to cover 25 per cent of the greenhouse’s heating requirements. “Being able to use excess heat from Resolute’s operation to grow vegetables is very efficient and helps to reduce costs,” says Éric Dubé, president of Toundra Greenhouse. “It is a green partnership. We put together old technologies with new technology, and existing industries with new industry – it’s a perfect fit.”
Inaugurated in December 2016, the greenhouse currently covers 8.5 hectares and employs over 100 workers. And 90 per cent of the greenhouse’s water needs are met by recovering rainwater and snow.
“The project proves that economic development can go hand-in-hand with carbon footprint reductions,” says Richard Garneau, president and CEO of Resolute Forest Products, and a member of Toundra Greenhouse’s board of directors. “This first-of-its-kind initiative in the industry is not only good for the environment – it also generates significant economic and social benefits in the Lac-Saint-Jean region.”
By 2020, $100-million are expected to have been invested in the complex, which will cover 34 hectares and create 500 jobs. Beginning in 2018, the greenhouse will also receive carbon dioxide from the pulp mill, due to a partnership with environmental technology company CO2 Solutions.
“The CO2 Solutions technology will capture some of the carbon dioxide of the pulp mill, which will help the greenhouse to enhance crop yields,” says Evan Price, president and CEO of CO2 Solutions. “While this synergy is made possible by the application of the novel carbon dioxide capture technology of CO2 Solutions, the environmental leadership shown by Resolute and Toundra Greenhouse is also an essential ingredient in making such a project happen.”
CO2 Solutions’ carbon capture technology will collect up to 30 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide per day for controlled injection into the greenhouse, which translates to a reduction of the mill’s emissions equivalent to 11,000 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide annually.
Mr. Garneau cites Toundra Greenhouse as an example of a creative partnership that aims to expand environmental, social and economic benefits for the region. “We realize that when we use innovative ideas for delivering on our sustainability commitments, such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions, this can lead to the advancement of carbon-capture technology,” he says.
“This kind of partnership between different industries, this is the future. If we want to continue to grow and reduce our environmental impact at the same time, we need to consider collaborating this way,” says Mr. Dubé. “Our model works very well – it could hopefully be applied to other industries. It brings economic benefits and reduces our environmental footprint. It’s a win-win for everyone.”
Toundra Greenhouse, Resolute Forest Products and Evan Price of CO2 Solutions have been recognized with the Canada’s Clean50 awards.
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