A six-megawatt biomass project has been approved for a COMFIT in Kentville.
Energy Minister Andrew Younger announced the Smart Tower Energy project was among 14 Community Feed-In Tarriffs (COMFIT) approved Dec. 20, which will allow it to move to the next phase of development.
Smart Tower Energy has proposed a facility for the Kentville Industrial Park, which will look at turning municipal solid waste into gas. The synthetic gas could then be used to power generators and feed electricity into the grid.
The gasification plan was initially presented to the Valley Waste Resource Management board last month. The project will not be an incinerator; rather, the plan is for a 40,000-square foot, multi-million dollar building at the authority’s Kentville station that will use technology developed by a Tennessee company.
The “cellulose to hydrogen power” process will look at turning wood and construction and demolition waste to fuel.
Kentville's deputy mayor, Mark Pearl, is chairman of Valley Waste. He says the authority is "cautiously optimistic" that the project will be able to move forward. Getting approval for the COMFIT would allow the use of biological products - such as wood - to be used in the cellulose to hydrogen power process.
However, this does not mean the project is moving forward yet, at least. Valley Waste is still waiting to see whether the province will approve the use of other waste materials that cannot be recycled or otherwise reused in the project.
"The province hasn't made a decision on that yet, and we won't proceed until we have an indication from the province whether solid waste can be used," Pearl said.
"As far as a final decision, it hasn't been made yet."
The COMFIT approval, however, will allow Valley Waste to partner with Smart Tower Energy to move forward with the project if they wish.
"Without the COMFIT approval, it would be a non-starter," Pearl said.
COMFIT provides eligible groups an established price per kilowatt hour (kWh) for projects producing electricity from renewable resources such as wind, biomass, in-stream tidal and run-of-the-river hydroelectric developments.
"Most of these projects are wind turbines, tidal initiatives, and they have their own challenges," Pearl said. "I think the province is hopeful. Energy from waste - there's nothing really like it in the Maritimes now."
Pearl added that from the presentations they've had from Smart Tower Energy and studying the technology that's proposed for use here, which is already in use in other areas, Valley Waste is hopeful.
"So far, we like what we see," he said, but added that if Valley Waste opts to go this route, public education will be a big proposal.
Smart Tower Energy, he added, is hoping to break ground on the project in 2015 if provincial approval is granted and Valley Waste decides to proceed.