Metro Vancouver's waste-to-energy plant in south Burnaby.

Metro Vancouver's waste-to-energy plant in south Burnaby.

Metro’s burning trash may warm Vancouver homes

Pipeline plan latest in trend toward district energy systems

Metro Vancouver’s garbage incinerator in Burnaby may help heat thousands of homes in the new River District neighbourhood springing up in southeast Vancouver.

The regional government is looking at building an eight-kilometre pipeline to carry hot water heated at the waste-to-energy plant to the Parklane Homes development, also known as the East Fraserlands.

The concept is the latest example of the growing trend toward the use of district energy, where water or steam is piped throughout a densely built area to efficiently heat buildings and avoid the need for each unit to have its own furnace or water tank.

The $3-billion 130-acre River District development is to include 7,000 residential units in multiple towers, with retail businesses and other amenities.

“It’s a significant revenue opportunity for us,” said Metro integrated planning division manager Ken Carrusca.

Exactly how much Metro could earn from the sale of the hot water depends on who builds the twin water pipes, one to carry hot water to the homes and the other to bring cooler water back to the incinerator.

If the region, partnering with the City of Burnaby, builds the pipeline, it would incur that cost but earn more by selling hot water right at River District, Carrusca said.

Alternatively, Metro could sell the water at a lower price right from the waste-to-energy plant and leave Parklane or another private partner to build the pipeline.

Some Metro politicians have objected to turning over the pipe project and control of the water to a private firm.

Metro currently earns about $9 million a year from selling some of the steam the incinerator produces to the adjacent Norampac paper mill and using the remainder to generate electricity it sells to BC Hydro.

Helping heat River District would be considerably more profitable than generating electricity, but Carrusca had no estimate yet of how much more Metro might earn under either of the construction scenarios.

Metro aims to ensure any pipeline to River District can also be expanded to hook up to other buildings in Burnaby in the future.

If Metro doesn’t supply waste-heated water, Parklane would build its own natural gas power plant to heat water in River District.

Piping Metro’s water there would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 8,000 tonnes per year.

The development would still have a secondary gas-fired plant as a backup and to supplement and times of peak demand.

Similar district energy systems already exist to heat buildings in downtown Vancouver and in Lower Lonsdale.

The newest to fire up is the one at Vancouver’s former Athletes Village development.

The latest projects proposed would be powered by burning wood waste.

UBC is building a plant in partnership with Nexterra Energy to gasify 13,000 tonnes of wood waste per year to create heat and electricity for the university, assisted by an $11-million provincial grant.

And Victoria last month gave $4.7 million to Simon Fraser University to burn construction wood waste to heat the campus and UniverCity residences on  Burnaby Mountain and generate most of the power consumed there.

Both projects claim dramatic greenhouse gas reductions by replacing the use of natural gas.

Burning wood is counted as climate-neutral because forests are assumed to grow back and store carbon again.

The City of Surrey is also looking at a district heating system in its City Centre area.

Some Surrey councillors say it would be an ideal fit with a new Metro waste incinerator – if the region gets approval from the provincial government to build more waste-to-energy plants.

 

Cap-and-trade may cost incinerator

While burning waste can make money for Metro Vancouver, the regional district may soon face big annual bills for the existing waste-to-energy plant’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The province’s planned cap-and-trade rules could force Metro to pay up to $3 million a year to buy offsets for the incinerator’s carbon emissions, according to a staff report.

That’s based on a projected offset price of $25 per tonne.

There are differing estimates – based on two different methodologies – of how much carbon the plant emits each year. By the province’s accounting method, it’s 119,000 tonnes but an internationally recognized counting method preferred by Metro estimates 103,000 tonnes.

The garbage incinerator in south Burnaby is the fourth largest industrial source of greenhouse gas emissions in Metro Vancouver and represents about one per cent of all carbon emissions in the region.

The biggest industrial sources – the Lehigh and Lafarge cement plants and the Chevron oil refinery – account for 75 per cent of industrial carbon emissions.

Just Posted

(Maps.Chilliwack.com)
RCMP seek dash-cam footage after Chilliwack road rage incident

Male driving a black pickup stopped and allegedly threatened to punch another driver

Deepak Sharma of Abbotsford has been convicted of the sexual assault of one of his cab passengers in West Vancouver in January 2019.
Former Abbotsford Hindu temple president convicted of sexual assault

Deepak Sharma assaulted a female passenger when he was a cab driver

A blood drive in support of 1-year-old Rielynn Gormley of Agassiz is scheduled for Monday, June 28 at Tzeachten First Nation Community Hall in Chilliwack. Rielynn lives with type 3 von Willebrand disease, which makes it difficult for her to stop bleeding. (Screenshot/Canadian Blood Services)
Upcoming blood drive in honour of Agassiz toddler with rare blood condition

The Gormley family has organized a blood drive in Chilliwack on June 28

Woody’s RV World hosts a grand opening for its brand-new Abbotsford location on Saturday. (YouTube)
Woody’s RV World hosts Abbotsford grand opening on Saturday

First-ever B.C. location for successful RV chain, located on Marshall Road

Langley’s Coral Hamade and Alberta’s Ella Gifford have signed with the UFV Cascades women’s golf program. (Submitted)
Langley’s Coral Hamade, Alberta’s Ella Gifford sign with UFV Cascades golf

First-ever Cascades Scholarship Golf Tournament set for Thursday at Chilliwack Golf Club

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

One Reconciliation Pole and two Welcome Figures were unveiled during a ceremony in honour of truth and reconciliation on National Peoples Indigenous Day at the Vancouver School District in Vancouver, B.C., on Friday, June 21, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Horgan marks Indigenous Peoples Day by urging recognition of systemic racism

National Indigenous Peoples Day has been marked in Canada since 1996

A man makes his way past signage to a mass COVID-19 vaccination centre at the University of Toronto’s Mississauga campus during the COVID-19 pandemic in Mississauga, Ont., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Canadians encouraged to see mRNA shots as interchangeable as more 2nd doses open up

Doctos urge people not to hesitate if offered Moderna after getting Pfizer for their first shot

Chief of Defence Staff Jonathan Vance sits in the front row during a news conference in Ottawa on June 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Defence committee rises without report on Vance allegations

Committee had been investigating the government’s handling of complaints against former defence chief

The Coquihalla Lakes washroom is getting upgrades. (Submitted)
Coquihalla to get upgrades to aging washrooms

The Ministry of Transportation is providing $1 million in funding to upgrade 3 rest areas

The Sacred Hearts church on PIB land burned Monday morning. (Theresa May Jack/Facebook)
Two churches on First Nation land in South Okanagan burn to the ground

Sacred Hearts church on Penticton Indian Band land was reduced to rubble

Tl’etinqox-lead ceremony at the site of the former St. Joseph’s Mission in Williams Lake, B.C., June 18, 2021. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
‘We are all one people’: Honouring residential school victims and survivors

Love, support and curiousity: Canadians urged to learn about residential schools and their impact

Indigenous rights and climate activists gathered outside Liberty Mutual’s office in Vancouver to pressure the insurance giant to stop covering Trans Mountain. (Photo by Andrew Larigakis)
Activists work to ensure Trans Mountain won’t get insurance

Global campaign urging insurance providers to stay away from Canadian pipeline project

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read