ZooShare

Community Rating

7.74038
Rating: 
7.74038

ZooShare Biogas Co-operative Inc. is a non-profit renewable energy co-operative that is developing a 500 kW community-owned biogas plant on the grounds of the Toronto Zoo, turning the Zoo's annual manure output and food waste from GTA-based grocery stores into electricity, heat, fertilizer and cash for the Zoo.

Contestant organization: 
ZooShare Biogas Co-operative Inc.
Venture partners: 

Angus Power,
Koenig and Consultants Inc.,
ReGenerate Biogas Inc.,
Riepma Consultants Inc.,
Toronto Zoo

Describe your venture: 

ZooShare Biogas Co-operative Inc. is a non-profit renewable energy co-operative that is developing a 500 kW community-owned biogas plant on the grounds of the Toronto Zoo, turning the Zoo's annual manure output and food waste from GTA-based grocery stores into electricity, heat, fertilizer and cash for the Zoo.

The bulk of the capital needed for the project will be raised from Zoo members and local citizens who support our mission via the issuance of Community Bonds. This allows the project to be controlled by those it will have the greatest impact on, while also allowing individual investors to support the local environment with their retirement portfolios.

ZooShare is helping Toronto on a number of levels - greenhouse gas emission reductions of over 10,000 tonnes per year, reduced risk of groundwater contamination from manure at the site, reduced waste to landfill, financial contributions to the Zoo of at least $50,000 for the next 20 years. The heat produced by the generator will be provided free-of-charge for use in a future greenhouse, which may be used to grow feed for animals, allowing the Zoo to realize additional cost savings.

ZooShare's mission is to be the catalyst for the growth of community-owned biogas plants through education and investment. Visitors to the site will get a chance to get an up-close look at an operational biogas plant, and learn more about the benefits of the technology and community power in general, while annual surpluses will be re-invested in other community-owned biogas plants, exponentially increasing the positive impact we can make.

Emissions reduction potential: 

Through the safe processing of over 3,000 tonnes of Zoo manure and 12,000 tonnes of grocery waste, net greenhouse gas emission reductions will be over 10,000 tonnes per year - the equivalent of taking over 1800 cars off the road. Enough clean energy will be produced to power approximately 500 homes each year, reducing demand for fossil-fuel based electricity sources like coal and natural gas. In addition, because ZooShare will be located in the GTA, the grocery store waste will have to travel at least an hour less than it currently does to be processed, thereby reducing emissions from the diesel trucks used for waste transportation. Furthermore, if/when the adjacent greenhouse is built, it will use little to no natural gas for heating purposes as 'waste heat' from the plant will be used instead.

The team: 

Daniel Bida, CFA - Executive Director. Daniel has nearly 10 years experience in the energy industry, first as a sustainability and financial analyst and then as president of ReGenerate Biogas Inc. - a dedicated developer of community-owned biogas plants.

Clare Riepma, P. Eng. (Riepma Consultants Inc.) Clare is one of Canada's foremost authorities on biogas and has successfully built and commissioned 5 plants in Ontario and 1 in British Columbia. Clare is responsible for ZooShare's renewable energy approval (REA) and plant design and development in conjunction with Angus Power.

John Hawkes (Angus Power). John has over 35 years experience installing and servicing power plants from 2 to 50 MW in size. As the Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) contractor for ZooShare, Angus Power will be responsible for executing our plans and making our dreams a reality.

Jean Sawaya (Angus Power). Jean has over 25 years experience in managing power generation project development, engineering and construction on gas-fired and renewable energy projects. He will be managing the project's development once it enters into Engineering and Construction phase.

Ingo Koenig, MBA, PhD (Koenig and Consultants Inc.) Ingo brings over 15 years experience in the development of community power projects to ZooShare and was responsible for writing the business plan and building the financial model. He continues to contribute to the general management and administration of the co-op going forward.

Christine Koenig, PhD (Koenig and Consultants Inc.) Christine brings her experience from multiple sectors including biotechnology and life sciences as a sustainability and marketing professional. She is managing ZooShare's marketing and communications.

Seeking collaborators: 
No
Potential collaborators should contact : 
Daniel Bida - daniel@zooshare.ca
How will you ensure your project is self supporting within five years?: 

ZooShare's return on investment will be approximately equal to 14% - it will be self supporting upon successful commissioning as a result of revenues from power sales and tipping fees that are over $1.2 million per year.

Comments

Eli Malinsky's picture

This is a great and inventive initiative.

How could this proposal be improved?: 

I'd love to see more detail about the projected 14% ROI. How has this been calculated? How exactly is revenue generated?

mpickering's picture

Great proposal with multiple benefits - zoo gives an opportunity for public education, multiple environmental benefits related to water and air pollution reduction, and something very satisfying about turning poo into a business enterprise!!

How could this proposal be improved?: 

I'd be very interested in thoughts about how this project could be leveraged in order to stimulate the development of more community-shared distributed energy opportunities in Toronto. Can you elaborate on possibilities for more community owned biogas in Toronto or the GTA? Or is the zoo opportunity a unique one that is unlikely to be replicated elsewhere?

oilnomore's picture

14% may not be correct, but it a great project to take risk. It may be too early to worry about ROI. Daniel may show you a reliable number in the next round.

Of course, it can be replicated. ClimateSpark proposals are all great and it will make Toronto a shining example for other cities to look up to.

How could this proposal be improved?: 

I love almost all contestants' proposals. I think ClimateSpark should prop up the string to at least one million dollars or more to accommodate all good viable proposals. Why not go after philanthropists?

Bryan Purcell's picture

How could this proposal be improved?: 

Love the idea and the public education opportunities!

I would like to see more detail on how the emissions reduction potential is calculated. How many MWH of electricity is expected to be generated annually? How many tonnes of reduced methane emissions?

danielbida's picture

Thanks for the great questions to start!

Eli - Revenues are generated from power sales to the OPA (at 16.4 cents/kWh) and from tipping fees to be received from the grocery retailer for accepting their organic waste.  These tipping fees decline over the course of the 20 year power contract, starting out at about $45/ton and ending at $0/ton.  We will be receiving about 12,000 tonnes per year of this material, so the revenue contribution is significant.  All of this adds up to $1.2 million in the first full year of operations, 2013. These tipping fees also translate into large cash surpluses during the early years of the project, which contributes to the nice return of 14%.  A caveat here is that this may change as we finalize our contracts and financing.  It is based on the average of our scenario testing.

mpickering - Yes, we think this project could be replicated in other locations around the GTA, but the builk of the opportunities likely lie beyond the GTAs borders, in the surrounding agricultural land where dairy and chicken farms are located.  The great thing about the GTA when it comes to biogas is that there is a very high volume of waste suitable for anaerobic digestion, however not all of it is 'clean' and ready for digestion, due to improper sorting and contaminants like plastic bags.  If another location producing manure around the GTA had an interest in developing a biogas plant, it could likely be done there, but would require further investigation to know for sure. We are hopeful that through our educational programming, people and businesses will get increasingly intersted in investing in biogas and community power in general.

Bryan - To calculate the potential emission reductions, we relied on two studies - one looking at the reduction in emissions as compared to sending waste to the Green Lane landfill (ETV Canada "GHG Reductions from Biogas" http://www.apao.ca/apaoExp/images/uploads/documents/2011/reports-presentations/APAO_Briefing_Note_Biogas_Potential_in_Ontario.pdf.) and another looking at the emissions of beef cattle (http://www.terradaily.com/reports/Manure_Composting_Reduces_Greenhouse_G...). In both studies, the comparison was made to burning the methane to create carbon dioxide (and electricity). Based on our projected manure and food waste intake (3,000 and 12,000 tonnes respectively), the real reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are expected to be over 10,000 tonnes per year - the equivalent to taking over 1,800 cars off the road.  We are expecting to produce 4.1 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity per year.

 

slyder's picture

I love this idea, has it been replicated anywhere else in the world?

A concern arises due to the uncertainty of the zoo's future. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I understand that council is considering privatizing the zoo. What are the implications should that occur?

How could this proposal be improved?: 

- Is there potential to bring the idea to other zoos

- Is there a need for a contingency plan should the zoo be privatized.

danielbida's picture

Hi slyder, thanks for the question!

I have heard that there is a zoo biogas plant in the works at the Hamburg Zoo in Germany, but otherwise, the Toronto Zoo Biogas plant will be one of the first of its kind in the world.  There is strong potential to replicate this concept at other Zoos - particularly those with large volumes of manure.  The real benefit of doing biogas at a Zoo is that it helps the Zoo further environmental and educational goals, while also attracting loads of positive goodwill - hence the reason ZooShare is pursuing a community ownership model. 

From our perspective, the potential of the Zoo being privatized isn't the biggest deal.  Our project adds to the Zoo's bottom line, while also managing their regular manure output. So whoever owns it will benefit from the biogas plant's operations. 

We do have a contingency plan in place, but it is more about if the Feed-in Tariff program disappears and we need to find another energy off-take customer.  If the province stops supporting renewable electricity, ZooShare will turn towards renewable natural gas customers.

take care,

Daniel

Rose Kudlac's picture

Some of the strengths of the proposal are credible participants, making use of otherwise underutilized resources, and a straightforward financing plan.

 

How could this proposal be improved?: 

The proposal says "heat produced by the generator will be provided free-of-charge for use in a future greenhouse, which may be used to grow feed for animals, allowing the Zoo to realize additional cost savings."

I've seen in other cities, food refuse from commercial establishments being used as animal feed. Using food refuse to feed animals directly would be a higher value and lead to even greater cost savings  than creating energy to grow animal feed and could leverage existing relationships and transportation from grocery stores in the proposal. This is provided that animals' dietary needs are respected.

Depending on the location, the heat could also be used for space heating in the zoo's buildings, which would again provide more direct cost savings.

danielbida's picture

Hi RK,

As you pointed out food waste could be fed to animals directly - this in fact does happen already with certain commercial/industrial organic waste streams currently ending up at pig farms as feed.  While this would be a more efficient use of food waste in terms of waste management, any energy related benefits are lost and it raises potential concerns about the health of the pigs and the safety of the meat. In fact, regulations in this area are tightening, making it more difficult to send food waste to farms.

Your second point is a good one, and one that was explored by the Zoo in the initial iteration of this project.  However, due to the distance from the biogas plant to the Zoo's buildings, much of the heat value that would be lost in transportation.  Furthermore, the Zoo's current heating systems would need to be converted to make use of the hot water.

take care,

Daniel

Keir Brownstone's picture

Great proposal. My only suggestion is to have an option to make it bigger. The City of Malmo Sweden (and other Swedish cities) power much of the transit system with biogas. I would love to see as part of the proposal an option to scale up.

danielbida's picture

Hi Keir,

thank you for already thinking about the future growth of ZooShare! Scaling up from 500 kW to 1 MW is a part of the plan, but we need to balance our energy aspirations with the need to keep this plant at a scale that does not disrupt Zoo operations.  The fear of growing too big will be that the larger volumes of organic waste begin contributing to odour problems - the last thing we want is for tourists to arrive at the Zoo and smell garbage.  After we expand this plant to 1 MW, the focus will be on using surplus funds to invest in and develop other community-owned biogas plants around Ontario and beyond.

Take care,

Daniel

verticiel's picture

Looks like a fantastic proposal. With most of the funding coming from zoo members and local citizens if Zooshare is declared the winner how would you put your share of the funding from the Social Venture Challenge to work?

 

danielbida's picture

Hi verticiel,

thank you for the support and good question.

The prize money will be used to ease our financing needs and to further our educational goals.  ZooShare's plan includes the construction of an education centre at the site where school groups and other visitors will get a chance to learn more about the plant's operations and get to see an operational biogas plant up close.   Beyond funding our educational programming and capital needs, the remaining funds will be used to reduce ZooShare's reliance on lenders (from the Community or otherwise).

take care,

Daniel

The About Face Collective's picture

I really love this idea, and think it will help to add value to the Toronto Zoo as a whole, as well as create a very viable option for the alternative energy sector in Toronto. 

How could this proposal be improved?: 

I am concerned about the Ontario Power Authorities willingness and ability to take on this project. We've seen how they've responded (slowly) to Ontario's push to get solar power projects on the grid. I'm not sure if this is due to politics or just logistics, but either way, I am hoping that this will not be an impediment to this project.

danielbida's picture

Thanks for the love and support! We're very excited to be adding value to the Zoo in more than one way - hopefully the school groups and other visitors that come to see us will also visit the Zoo, making a positive impact on attendance.  We're also hoping to sell more Zoo memberships, as the $500 Community Bond is only available to current Zoo members (non-member minimum investment is $5,000).

Your concern is a legitamate one.  We've been told by Toronto Hydro (our Local Distirbution Company) that more than enough capacity exists at our connection point, so getting hooked up is not a great concern.  However, ZooShare has not as of yet received a FIT offer from the OPA after applying in February for a contract.  We are confident an offer will be made, the question is really when with the election and program review coming up over the next couple months.  If it doesn't work out on the power side, we are likely to sell the gas to a green gas retailer.

take care,

Daniel

Nora Sobolov's picture

The Team and the "stick to your knitting" scale up....both very important for start ups.  

How could this proposal be improved?: 

The FITT program is a big concern given the delays....have you built these into your financial plans?

Could you please give details of your community bonds.  It appears these are being sold as member shares (or loans), but please explain the price differential for non-member investment.  Did the OSC require regulation or did you get an exemption? What other financing do you have?  

Looks very interesting, looking forward to hearing more. 

danielbida's picture

Hi Nora, thanks for the questions and interest in ZooShare.

As of now, we have not built detailed models of a non-FIT project.  There's a couple of reasons for this: 1) Most of the funding thus far has come from the Community Energy Partnership Program - wihtout them we would not be where we are today.  This program is funded by the OPA and specifically funds FIT Community Power projects; 2) We believe that no matter what happens in the election that biogas-fired electricity will continue to be supported - this has been confirmed all three major parties. Plan B has a high level plan and interest from multiple natural gas retailers.

The Community Bonds (which have not yet been approved by the Financial Services Commissioner of Ontario) are being sold as a standalone security - it is not a member loan nor is there a condition of membership that you must lend money. Currently, it is possible to become a lifetime member of the co-op for $100.  When FSCO approves the bonds and they go on sale later this year, we'll cover the first $100 for members.  So there's really no price differential for members.

However, there is a price difference for members of the Toronto Zoo. With proof of valid Zoo membership, investors are able to purchase the $500 bonds. For non-members, the minimum is $5000.

The OSC does not regulate the co-op sector, it is FSCO.

Other financing is from the City of Toronto's Green Energy Fund (pending approval), Founders Club investors, and some grant funding.  The goal from the beginning was to raise as much money as possible from Torontonians, so the returns stay local with individuals and further drive our economy. 

We are borrowing from local citizens, and our municipality (among others), to create a project that improves the local environment and financially/educationally supports our local Zoo - I am going to look into having this impact measured...

take care

Daniel

 

CCT2_Alethea's picture

"to create a project that improves the local environment and financially/educationally supports our local Zoo" -- this is the aspect that is so incredible about this project, that it cover so many bases: educational, financial, ecological. It's a  perfect meshing of ideas that all contribute to the other. That kids and the greater community can observe and learn about this really interesting idea is so valuable because we need to do a better job of teaching people about using resources that are renewable. Education is key to developing further environmental and ecological initiatives like biogas, and it's becoming increasingly essential in order to sustain the lifestyle we have become so accustomed to. 

David Love's picture

How could this proposal be improved?: 

The federal commitment to make the Rouge a national park adds some intriguing dimenions to this idea. 

Jennifer Chan's picture

I love this project and the educational opportunities mostly! Connecting youth and poo is not a far stretch and I can only imagine the places their imagination will take them while learning and researching.

danielbida's picture

thanks Jennifer! We are very excited about the educational opportunities, not only for youth, but for the big kids too.  For ZooShare, the educational goals include increased interest and understanding from Toronto's financial community in order to grow the biogas industry here, while helping individuals of every age better understand the value of their waste so as to increase waste diversion from landfills.  The more people and organizations making efficient use of organic waste the better!

We're also excited about the opportunity to engage older students (grades 6-12) in biogas through in-class biogas education curriculums that end with a visit to the Toronto Zoo biogas plant.

take care

Daniel

Chris Caners's picture

Hello Daniel - Very interesting proposal.  There are a couple of things I'd like to understand a bit better.  First, your emission reduction estimates seem to be based in large part on avoided methane emissions (it looks to me like you'd get about 900 tonnes per year from displacing grid electricity alone) from not placing the waste in landfill.  But I'm not sure that you'd be avoiding these emissions since the City is already anaerobically digesting SSO and plans to do more in future.  Further to that point, your estimate of 4.1 million kWh/year might be a bit high - that number assumes that the plant will operate at full capacity (i.e. generating 500 kW continuously) for 94% of the year (which sounds high to me).  

Second, could you comment on any plans the Zoo has to use the output of the anaerobic digestion process?

Thanks, Chris

danielbida's picture

Hi Chris, thanks for the questions and interest in ZooShare.

The emission reduction esimates do not consider grid electricity displacement actually - they are entirely based on the capture of methane from 15000 tonnes of Zoo manure and grocery store waste.  This waste is not currently processed at the City's anaerobic digester, which is exclusively for green bin organics collected from homes and restaurants.  The study we based our estimates on was comparing biogas to waste going to the City's Green Lane landfill - the grocery store waste is currently being processed by a private company that would take it to biogas plants if the capacity was in place, but since it does not as of yet (ie. not enough plants), it is ending up in landfills.

We feel extremely confident in reaching a capacity factor of 94% - this is based on the performance of other digesters in Ontario and Germany.  As long as sufficient amounts of gas are being produced, there is nothing stopping us from running almost all the time.

The Zoo will use some of the solid digestate (fertilizer) we produce for their own landscaping needs, and if they build a greenhouse they will use the excess heat and CO2 we produce free of charge.

take care

Daniel

CCT2_Alethea's picture

I think this is a fantastic idea. I love that it's taking something there's an abundance of already (zoo poo) and using it for renewable energy. Perhaps it's been mentioned already, but once the facility is built, is there some kind of smell factor to be concerned about transferring and moving all that poo about and getting it into an energy form we can use? And how would the grocery food waste get to the plant? Would trucks pick it up from the stores and deliver it to the site? For free? Would the plant be accessible to visitors as an educational aspect?

Details, but things flying through my head.

danielbida's picture

Hi CCT2_Alethea,

thanks for saying we're fantastic! and for the questions... Odours are always a concern with any waste to energy development.  In this case, the Zoo is already transferring their manure to the site and processing it via open-air composting, so the odours will actually be reduced as a result of our operations.  The grocery store waste will be brought to the site in liquid form in tanker trucks, that pick it up from the stores and bring it to the site 5-7 times per week.  There is a cost for them to drop it off though - this is standard practice in the waste industry, it is referred to as tipping fees.  In ZooShare's case, there is significant value to these tipping fees as in the first 5 years of the project they will provide alomst 50% of total revenues.  In the last 5 years of the project, the grocery store will get to drop it off for free, as we assume a declining tipping fee which is in line with industry forecasts and the way things played out in Germany (which now has 7,000 biogas plants... the number goes up every time I hear it).

The plant is absolutely going to be accessible to visitors - Education is a big part of what ZooShare is about and there will be an onsite classroom, a tour guide, viewing windows and live operating data available to visitors.  Allowing people from the GTA to see a real live biogas plant up close is probably the most valuable lesson we're able to provide.

take care,

Daniel

 

new_e46's picture

Great idea!  Taking raw material that's abdundant and widely available and using it further to prouduce energy to power local areas is brilliant. 

 

danielbida's picture

Thanks new_e46! We hope you'll join the co-op and help ZooShare further the growth of community-owned biogas around Ontario

take care

Daniel

CCT2_Alethea's picture

Can you explain how you plan to get money from zoo members? I'm not clear on this.

danielbida's picture

Hello again CCT2_Alethea,

Our Community Bonds will be available to the public in two classes - Zoo members and those living within 1 km of the project, and everyone else.  Zoo members are able to invest in the project for $500, whereas for everyone else the minimum is $5,000.

It should be noted however, that to be held in your RRSP portfolio, you must purchase the $5,000 bonds.

take care,

Daniel

Tyler Hamilton's picture

ZooShare, SolarShare, WindShare, WaterShare... etc... these are all terrific ideas, and I think there is tremendous potential for community green bonds, especially if they are RRSP-elligible. There are many hurdles to be overcome, including getting the banks to carry these bonds so any person can walk into their financial institution and request them/get them without hassle.

But progress starts with single efforts such as this, and I applaud the effort. One day, hopefully, this will be more mainstream. Perhaps large organizations can emerge that consolidate many projects and provide an easy way for citizens/consumers to tap into this amazing community-based opportunity.

 

Good luck!

How could this proposal be improved?: 

It doesn't need to be improved, it needs to be replicated -- in a big way.

danielbida's picture

Thank you Tyler!

You've been studying the sector for a while now, it's good to have your endorsement.  Hopefully this Community Power thing starts to really take off as a result of all this Share-ing.

We're telling our story to farmers and other Zoos all the time, it may not be long before the next project is born.

take care

Daniel

oilnomore's picture

Very timely great idea!

How could this proposal be improved?: 

You may consider economical cost saving way of composting that is thermophilic composting which produce fertilizer in larger quantity in shorter time. The organic fertilizer thus produced can be used to grow food for zoo animals.

danielbida's picture

Hello oilnomore,

thanks for the appreciation and suggestion.  Our cheif engineer has some of the aspirations you do and would love to make our mesophilic anaerobic digester into a thermophilic one in the future, so that we can process more waste and produce more megawatts with the same tanks and digesters. Unfortunately, there is limited experience with thermophilic digesters here and one of the Zoo's main concerns going into this was odours - the more waste we take, the more risk for odour. Nevertheless it is something we may pursue in the future if we can keep the smells in check.

For those who don't know, mesophillic and thermophilic refer to the temperature inside the tanks during digestion.  The higher the temperature, the more waste you can accept because each batch does not need to be digested for as long. By taking more waste, more gas is produced and more power/heat can be generated. The digesters would require more heat energy in this situation though, as they need to be kept at a constant 50°C, instead of the mesophillic 37/38°C.

take care,

Daniel

 

oilnomore's picture

Thermophilic is areobic, need good amount of oxigen, and it does not give off odours or gas, if it's done properly. No smell, no flies. Thermophilic composting produces best organic fertilizer, when it comes down to ambient temperature in about a year.

How could this proposal be improved?: 

There are two different digestive systems run separately on two different purpose, gas or fertilizer, energy or foods.

danielbida's picture

ahh my mistake oilnomore,

I thought you were asking about thermophilic digestion - which is a long term hope of ours at ZooShare.  For us, energy is the goal more so than fertilizer, although we'll be producing lots of good fertlizer too.  How does the quality compare between digestate and thermophilic composting, if you know?

take care,

Daniel

oilnomore's picture

The thermophilic composting is the aerobic decomposition that has a hot stage when a certain microbes dominates that hot stage. Thermophilic compost is safe and nutrient-rich fertilizer. Non-thermophilic does not have hot stage and it must be anaerobic to produce gas. At the end of bio-gas cycle, by-product fertilizer will remain. You may need to check the safety for any pathogen contaminations, because some bacteria may have survived. Quality wise, it will be lower than thermophilic compost because of nutrient loss during anaerobic fermentation.

How could this proposal be improved?: 

So it may not make sense to go both ways, if your primary concern is in gasification.

mijbe's picture

I think this is a brilliant idea - a real win-win.

How could this proposal be improved?: 

Would there be a way for everyday consumers to bring in their animal waste?  I shudder to think of the amount of wasted poop my own household of 5 cats produces every day.  Could you have a poop depot for pet owners or is this too small scale?

 

tstoate's picture

D:

I think this is a viable business and I believe that you make a case for this business without a FIT. However, a  TAF engineer has sugested to me thought that without Fit and without a higher output that the revenues are in sufficient. This individual has significant experience in providdng feasibility studies to potential builders of biogas faciliies. Without revealing your numbers on line can you make a solid case for this project by citing the research that you have performed - or send the numbers to me for review. To quote the best quote on the site - Pootential!

danielbida's picture

Hi Tim, thanks for the question and love of investing in pootential

It's hard to answer your question specifically, so I'm going to keep it high level (because that's the extent of our research into those number thus far). If the FIT/or similar contracts were to disappear, which is not likely to happen in my opinion, the project will still be profitable, but not by much - IRR would definitely be in single digits. The biomethane market in Ontario is continuing to develop rapidly as the major gas distributors recently filed with the regulator put biogas on the gas grid. There is a market for what we produce no matter what - fertilizer, organic waste processing, energy - all things that are needed on an going basis. At the very least we can count on our proximity to GTA waste producers, association with the Zoo and community financing to manage costs and keep it profitable.

NB: no energy project has zero subsidies

take care

Daniel

Sandra Iseman's picture

Strength is that it's local, renewable, and entrepreneurial. And not that the zoo needs justifying, but this gives it added value.

 

How could this proposal be improved?: 

This proposal doesn't need improving.

danielbida's picture

Thank you Sandra! We couldn't agree more ;)

take care

Daniel

Tine Koenig's picture

Strenghts of this project clearly are its high profile. But what makes the project even more facinating while at the same time challenging  is the fact that iit will be the first urban, community owned biogas plant. It thus offers interesting feedstock opportunites or to put it differently, there is lots of pootential in the city with respect to organic waste that good be taken up. At the same time anaerobic digestion is a biological process that needs to be tighly controlled. We will only find out by trying. Go for it!!!

dringo.koenig's picture

Great community involvement, Big GHG savings, fun project, public, private parntership

Sandra Oh's picture

Hi Daniel,

I'm very impressed with your well-laid out plans. The tough part is yet to come, when you actually have to roll up your sleeves and begin the engineering, installation and maintenance! This assumes that you will be successful in achieving your financing needs, which I am confident will happen.

How could this proposal be improved?: 

Out of curiosity, are you planning to procure biogas sub-systems (i.e. fermentation tanks, digester, heat exchangers, desulfurization units, gas compressors, etc.) and engineer them together under your own in-house engineers? Or, will you out-source the engineering to consulting firms? Or something else altogether?

Secondly, who will have long-term ownership of the biogas plant?

danielbida's picture

Hi Sandra,

thank you for for being impressed... the hard work of many individuals is the real cause of the well-laid out plans.  It has seemed tough enough to move the project forward as it is - to me it seems like the next phases will really be the easy part... but I'm also an overly wishful thinker, so I guess we'll see.

To answer your first question, we are planning to outsource the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) to Angus Power, a subsidiary of HH Angus.  I believe the plan is to work together with the different biogas technology providers to put our design in place, however because we are trying for this to be a 100% locally sourced project, some of the components may come from different providers. Angus Power is planning to go to tender for our needs in the new year, once they have completed detailed engineering.

Long term ownership of the biogas plant will be with ZooShare - we have a 20 year lease agreement in the works which includes 2 5-year options, so this plant is likely to be operational and providing cash to ZooShare and the Zoo for at least 30 years, if not more. 

take care

Daniel

 

Deepak Ramachandran's picture

Please read below.

How could this proposal be improved?: 

I’m excited to see so many entrepreneurial proposals on ClimateSpark.  I especially like the model of social ventures that can sustain themselves by creating their own revenue and be less dependent on grants or gifts.  

In my own experience starting and building several companies, I’ve often employed “bootstrapping” techniques so I’m not dependent on external capital (VCs, etc.).  One technique I’ve used successfully is to recruit one or more “lead customers” who pay me up-front for a service (e.g., consulting or something they need right away), which gives me the capital to build my product or capability for them.  The big advantages:  cash up-front (or early); a real customer to help make sure my design is something they’ll want to buy; and a great partner to test ideas with as I’m getting off the ground. 

What’s your bootstrapping strategy?  Have you tried to develop “lead customers” for your product or service?  Have you talked to potential customers ? What are you doing to get cashflow from them  early, so your idea can gain traction?

danielbida's picture

Hi Deepak,

thanks for the good suggestion and questions.  In our case, we don't have too many customers, only the power grid (OPA) and our grocery partner (tipping fees, fertlizer sales).  The OPA won't be a 'lead customer' for sure, but I have thought about the possibility of asking for advance tipping fee payment - and will now consider ways to integrate it into our agreement.

The other way we are working to get cash flow and gain traction is through the sale of Founders Club bonds to our early supporters.  These individuals have made investments in ZooShare because they believe in Pootential!

take care,

Daniel

Peg Lahn's picture

Daniel,

I am reading all of this and loving your idea and the innovations being suggested to strengthen your project.

Wondering what your contingency plans are given the zoo may be privatized in the near future. Does it present new lead customer opportunities? Is Zoo poo being positioned as an asset in a sale of the Zoo?

How could this proposal be improved?: 

How are you "future proofing" this idea given that the "future" is a bit closer for you than some other ventures?

danielbida's picture

Hi Peg,

thank you for the question and the love. 

To be honest, we didn't make contingency plans in case the Zoo was sold because we've already received Board approval to move forward on our project and are in the final stages of executing our agreements.  These agreements would be binding to any organization that eventually took over the Zoo and are going to be signed far before any sale agreement can be made. Furthermore, because we are providing cash payments of at least $50k each year for the next 20 and sustainably processing the manure produced at the Zoo, we don't see a significant risk that any new owner wouldn't support the initiative.

The primary way we are future proofing the project is with long term contracts - with our primary customer (the OPA), the landowner (the Zoo) and our primary feedstock provider (major grocery retailer). OPA and Zoo agreements are for 20 years.  Feedstock is a 10 year agreement with renewal options.

take care,

Daniel

Adam.Whidden_CMA's picture

I love the concept of turning "waste" into a useful item. The Open Houses' are full of information. As a member of the Founder's Club, I can't wait to see this project get off the ground, and what the future holds for similar projects.

danielbida's picture

Thanks Adam! We're happy to have passionate individuals like yourself helping us get there.

take care

Daniel

pamela.west@rogers.com's picture

The epitome of re-cycling - re-using and renewing

Should pay for itself forever!

How could this proposal be improved?: 

It could not be improved

danielbida's picture

Thank you for seeing all of the pootential Pamela! We are proud and very excited to be providing far more than just investment returns, but a whole closed-loop system that maximizes returns of all kinds to all of our stakeholders.

take care,

Daniel

Mara Hallman's picture

Greatest strength is the potential to educate on bio-gas technologies...an environmental "movement" that seems to be lagging in Canada!

danielbida's picture

Hi Mara,

thank you for recognizing the strong need to educate Canadians on the multitude of benefits that biogas projects can bring to local communities.  We are extremely excited to help kids of all ages understand what biogas is and how it works, so that they are more conscious of the value of organic waste and work to sort it better in the home.  We're also hoping a nice side benefit is that the banking community gains a better understanding of the technology and increases its willingness to lend to new projects.

take care,

Daniel

interested's picture

Each proposal in ClimateSpark is bringing a valuable community based idea forward to help with energy conservation and the reduction of carbon emissions

How could this proposal be improved?: 

Centennial College, School of Communications Media & Design, Corporate Communications and Public Relations Class of 2012 will be working on a set of mock press releases, in anticipation of this proposal being one of the 20 to be selected on October 31 to continue to ClimateSpark Ignite Phase 2.

If you would like to be interviewed as part of the mock press release development process, please send a note to Professor Barry Waite, bwaite@centennialcollege.ca by Friday October 21, 2011.

If you choose not to be interviewed, the mock press release will be developed based on Information currently posted in the description of your idea, as well as information gleaned from the various comment interactions.

Sasha's picture

I really like the idea of this project; very environmentally conscious. However, I am concerned as to how it will go through, given the recent proposal to privatize the Toronto Zoo. There will be both job and money loss involved. You won't get any help from the government, so how will you manage turning manure output and food waste into usable items? 

 

How could this proposal be improved?: 

You need to first wait and see who will take over the zoo. Then see if this project can be accomplished.

Sasha's picture

I really like the idea of this project; very environmentally conscious. However, I am concerned as to how it will go through, given the recent proposal to privatize the Toronto Zoo. There will be both job and money loss involved. You won't get any help from the government, so how will you manage turning manure output and food waste into usable items? 

 

How could this proposal be improved?: 

You need to first wait and see who will take over the zoo. Then see if this project can be accomplished.

danielbida's picture

Hi Sasha,

thanks for the comment and questions.

Our project will not be affected by the recent proposal to privatize the Toronto Zoo.  There are a few reasons for this: 1. Our agreement is almost final and the Board gave us unanimous approval back in June, any potential sale won't materialize for quite some time; 2. Our agreement is fully binding to any successors organizations of the Toronto Zoo; 3. Our project provides annual cash contributions to the Zoo and safe, sustainable manure processing - both of which the Zoo could use no matter who owns it.

The primary cause of the Zoo privatization talk has been to slow down our progress as it has caused distractions for both the Toronto Zoo and ZooShare.

take care,

Daniel

danielbida's picture

Thank you for the kind words and vote of confidence Harvey!

take care,

Daniel

cstuckey's picture

This seems like an idea with some great potential!  It is the epitome of recycling! The public education aspect of your project is fantastic.  Your measurements are very exciting - it seems as though a lot of benefit can come from recycling a natural source. The only concern that comes to mind is the issue of the zoo's future.  Would your plan be able to continue even if the zoo is privatized?  Overall, a very creative and thoughful idea!

danielbida's picture

Hi cstuckey,

thanks for the kind words! As I've said to previous posters, we are confident in our future in spite of an uncertain future for the Toronto Zoo.  One thing is certain though - there will always be a Zoo in this location.  The primary risk we face is if the Zoo is significantly downsized and the amount of manure available is significantly reduced as a result.  If this were to happen, the manure source would be replaced by manure from one of the nearby dairy farms.

take care,

Daniel

chris winter's picture

This is one of my favourites for a pure business model, and it has good precedents to build upon.  Turning waste into profit and power is a mighty fine thing.

Aside from the community bond aspect, there is nothing in the project that requires social change or a cultural shift.  But like the wind turbine, all of Toronto can feel good knowing it is there.  (and thankfully not as visible)

How could this proposal be improved?: 

I'd be interested in the strategy for researching and promoting biogas options in Ontario, both from a community power perspective and individual applications.  What scale is needed for it to make sense, what opportunities are at that scale, how does the cost compare with other power sources (straight up or full-cost analysis). 

No need to answer it now, especially because this goes beyond the scope of a Toronto project.

danielbida's picture

Hi Chris, thanks for the comment and questions.

I think the thing in the project that requires a cultural shift is the way everyone thinks about their garbage and waste in general.  ZooShare will be demonstrating that there is strong value to waste - with the hope that it will get people to be more conscious of the waste they produce and its potential value to society. I believe nothing is as powerful as a real live demonstration of what you're talking about.  By placing a community-owned biogas plant so close to the millions of people who live around the GTA, that many people will potentially make a greater effort to sort organics because they better understand it's not waste.  It's fuel and fertilizer.

Our strategy is to make ourselves known and invite visitors for a tour.  Through our website and onsite, people will get an up-close look at how much energy we're producing and how it's done. Info will be available to take home on what community power is and what biogas is.  The other way that ZooShare will promote biogas is through a partnership with TREC Education to get biogas into schools and create a biogas curriculum for grade 6-8 science class.

The scale question is a very good one. If there was no need for environmental permits and unlimited connection capacity, bigger is almost always going to look better.  The price per installed kW for a 2+ MW biogas plant is something like $3300/kW.  As you get smaller, the price can climb to as much as $10000/kW. The former number compares favourably with wind and solar, as well as traditional power sources like coal and nuclear. However, it needs to be noted the significantly better capacity factors for biogas plants (>90%) vs. wind (25-35%) or solar (12-15%) - meaning that for less installed capacity, you get more electricity out of biogas.

Considering things like odours, transportation, distirbution capacity, environmental regulations and the FIT rules/prices, I believe that 250-500 kW is the ideal scale for biogas development.  Based on studies done by the Ontario biogas association (www.apao.ca), there is the potential to develop 500-750 plants of this scale around the province.  At even smaller scales, looking to offset on-site energy costs with a 25-50 kW plant at small/medium dairy operation, there could be over 2000 of these plants.

take care,

Daniel

EC's picture

Although the concept is novel, and i personlay value the idea of a community owned biogas plant however i feel the overall impact of this initaive will be limited, and i question its sustainability.

danielbida's picture

Hi EC,

While it's fair to question the impact of our initiative at 500 kW in a province that needs about 26,000 MW a day, I think it isn't fair to say our impact will be limited. Our operation will create actual GHG reductions, equivalent to about 10,000 cars per year. For the next 20 years, we will making cash contributions to the Zoo of at least $50,000/yr. We'll be educating potentially over 1 million Torontonians and tourists about the potential of biogas and community power. We'll be investing up to $4 million back into the sector to create additional community owned biogas projects. And we'll be demonstrating that it pays to divert waste from landfills. As long as all of us keep eating food from your local grocery store and the Zoo animals keep pooing, this project has a lasting and sustainable purpose - processing waste and turning it into energy, fertilizer and cash for the Zoo.

Please ask more questions - I'll gladly talk your ear off about all the great things ZooShare can accomplish.

take care,

Daniel

jroddy's picture

I like the idea but how are you generating revenue.  How are you expected to make 14% ROI?

How could this proposal be improved?: 

I would like to see more of a cash flow analysis

 

danielbida's picture

Hi jroddy,

If you send me an email (daniel at zooshare dot ca), I'd be happy to share our business plan, which contains a more detaild CF analysis.

To answer your question quickly about revenue - it's generated from 3 different sources: 1) power sales to the OPA at 16.4 ¢/kWh; 2) tipping fees on about 12,000 tonnes of organic waste declinining from $45 to $0 over the 20 year power contract 3) about 2,000 tonnes of fertilizer sales at $15/tonne. 

Our first full year of operations should see total revenue of $1.2 million.

hope this helps, email me for more info.

take care,

Daniel

bmillar2's picture

This is an excellent concept, however I have some concerns. How much zoo manure can realistically be produced? I assume the waste of mammals is the most methane rich, but are there enough mammals to produce the 3, 000 tonnes? Up above you comment that additional manure can be acquired from dairy farms, but don't dairy farms already use their manure for fertilizer? If not, it seems likely that they have contracts in place to provide fertilizer to companies and other farms. The same concern about existing contracts can be extended to grocery stores.

How could this proposal be improved?: 

I would like to see data about how much manure zoo animals are producing.

Niri2011's picture

I love the idea! Local investment opportunity, making poo into power - It's win-win for everyone.

douglasjpritchard's picture

This is a very creative project with more complexities than wiht other great renewables like wind or solar. Using mixed feeds to the digester, then generating power, and then selling off solid and liquid residues as fertilizers, are some of the complexities. Also operating from a limited size, multi-user site (zoo, conservation authority, biogas co-op) adds another constraint, especially on furutre growth at the site. But methane is a much more potent greenhouse gas than CO2 and so it is very important to support projects like this and to expand the idea. I especially like the fact that this project is a community co-op with open and transparent financing unlike many other "carbon offset" projects.

mlotterm's picture

Non-renewable resources on earth will sooner or later come to an end. I think it is very important to find alternatives and to turn all this waste, especially from zoos, is a very interesting method to win energy. And waste is a resource that will never come to an end!!

 

How could this proposal be improved?: 

I have heard from farms that have attached biogas plants, which are converting all the waste from the animals directly to energy.

vicky Lee's picture

another really cool idea that sounds promising!

dragonx's picture

Sounds like a win-win-win for the zoo, the environment, and energy consumers.

How could this proposal be improved?: 

Can the facilities be used for consumer pet waste as well?

asareen1's picture

This is a great and unique idea. I loved the concept of using waste materials for the benefit of the environment. The innovative point of this proposal of shifting the zooshare within GTA to reduce diesel consumption will be of great help to the environment. 

How could this proposal be improved?: 

This proposal can produce more electricity if Zooshare contacts the poultry farms and cattle farms as the waste from their can also be used for more meaningful and eco-friendly projects.

opisat's picture

This is indeed a very good and a classic approach for this situation. What makes it more unique (the strength) is that it is a circular operation, related to the next processes and thus even if they perform seperate functions, it still seems coherent. The practical implementation (based on real life experiments) is visible and easily quantifiable. Also the biggest strength of this  initiative would be that it is a real grass-root level operation.

Weakness - Enormous amount of initial Capital Investment.

How could this proposal be improved?: 

Could be improved by roping in more Sponsorships or Funding, so that the initial phase of the implementation goes smooth.

jbahen's picture

I think it is a well thoughtout proposal - that will beniefit all stakeholders.  The weakness is securing the fuel supply as we are currently seeing the status of the Zoo a city resource can change with each election.

jbahen's picture

I think it is a well thoughtout proposal - that will beniefit all stakeholders.  The weakness is securing the fuel supply as we are currently seeing the status of the Zoo a city resource can change with each election.

oilnomore's picture

You are right, supply must be secured, no matter what political situation may present. I have an answer for Daniel.

How could this proposal be improved?: 

When I got my "Urban Biomass Utilization" business going, I will make sure I will fill Daniel's need.

klc0718's picture

I love the idea of community ownership and the collaboration between multiple sectors is fantastic! This project is so multi-faceted- waste reduction, renewable energy, community involvement, educational opportunities, the list goes on! I think this is a shining example of what can be accomplished with some creativity, a lot of hard work and a mutual concern for the sustainability of our communities.

I would like to clarify one thing though, because this project is being supported by the feed-in-tariff program, ownership of the associated GHG reductions is retained by the OPA, right? Because otherwise I would ask if you had looked into the REC (Renewable Energy Credit) market and possible partnerships with high profile retailers such as Bullfrog Power, Direct Energy or Renewable Choice Energy. Perhaps this could serve as a component of any contingency plans should support from the feed in tariff diminish in any way.

How could this proposal be improved?: 

It's already excellent but it would be interesting to see mention of expanded district energy opportunities in future. That's probably a bit out of the scope of this project though and would rest more with the City of Toronto in terms of leading community energy mapping and planning.

jthakka2's picture

This idea is really awesome if it will be able to generate more and better outcomes for reduction in emission and help the environment on a longer run.

How could this proposal be improved?: 

if more and more people join in developing this idea on a larger scale then it would really bring out optimum results.

adamlisk's picture

This is a great proposale to showcase more of Toronto Zoo's world class leadership - this would be a very innovative project that would fit well with the Zoo's Ice Bear installation, and other committments to sustainability. A great model that could easily be ported to other zoos and agricultural areas.

akaviraj's picture

One of the best thing about this proposal is that it gives as the knowledge that how we can make use of the wasted unwanted products for an efficient and useful use.

Bio gas is a better solution cause

1. It is made used out of thrown out products

2. It unlike other energy sources is renewable source

3. It doesnt effect the ecosystem.

Thus i think this proposal is one of the best in which the citizens of Toronto, can take initiative on their own behalf and make a sysytem where they can procure the energy out of the wastage.

Even making use of the animal waste in zoos is a good idea, because the requirement of energy is much more than what is there for all.

How could this proposal be improved?: 

i think this proposal can be improved by educating people, more about the sources from which they can meet there demands for energy from there own backyard.

Even the gas used from this is enviormental friendly, that is it saves from air pollution.

it is quiet hectic and time consuming to setup the pipelines and chambers for the biogas, hence i think goverment should give some subsidies and quotes for people who use this method.

Goverment can also minimise the cost on the materials needed for it.

Comment Feeds, No of Comment : 83
Subscribe to Comment Feeds

The ClimateSpark Social Venture Challenge is a project of:

Partners

Our sponsors:

Our Sponsors