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Delta cannabis growing starts using RNG

The direct replacement for natural gas uses state-of-the-art technologies
The large-scale cannabis greenhouse in East Ladner undertook an innovative new energy plan to reduce its reliance on natural gas. Delta Optimist file

A large-scale greenhouse cannabis growing operation in East Ladner has made the switch to renewable natural gas (RNG) with a new production facility that utilizes methane gas from the Vancouver Landfill.

Village Farms International Inc., which owns the greenhouse operated by its subsidiary Pure Sunfarms, started operating the RNG facility in partnership with Atlanta-based Terreva Renewables (Terreva).

Subsidiary Village Farms Clean Energy Inc. had decommissioned an existing cogeneration system to have a new facility constructed to process the landfill gas (LFG). The end products will be RNG, which will be sold to FortisBC and carbon dioxide, which will be used in the greenhouse.

Village Farms previously explained that its the renewed and extended LFG contract with the City of Vancouver, which operates the landfill, enables the operation to transition to a more attractive long-term business model based on the conversion to high-demand RNG, which will also generate food-grade liquid CO2, significantly reducing the reliance on natural gas to produce CO2 in their operations.

As a biofuel, RNG generates low-to-negative carbon emissions and is playing an integral role in the global transition to low-carbon energy sources by both offsetting fossil fuels and serving as a direct replacement for natural gas, the company states.

“We are proud to contribute to environmental sustainability, while at the same time transitioning Village Farms Clean Energy’s model to one that will generate incremental cash flow, profitability and value for our shareholders, beginning immediately,” said Michael DeGiglio, Village Farms President and CEO, in a news release. “The RNG project continues our longstanding investment in the Greater Vancouver Area and is a unique opportunity to significantly reduce the harmful impact of landfill gas, while addressing the energy needs of the region.”

Village Farms will receive a royalty on all revenue generated from the RNG facility, which is owned and operated by Terreva.

Meanwhile, the City of Vancouver and FortisBC have a deal for the installation of a system to clean LFG so that it can be injected into the natural gas pipeline as RNG, which will be sold to the city.

Last fall, an update was provided on the construction of the project at the landfill in Delta.

The reduction in emissions is expected to be equivalent to up to 12,500 tonnes of carbon dioxide, which is equivalent to taking 2,600 cars off the road each year, according to the City of Vancouver.

Construction and commissioning of that RNG facility was expected to take approximately 12-to-15 months to complete.

FortisBC notes that when organic waste decomposes, it releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, but the utility is working with suppliers like farmers, landfills operators and local governments, to capture and turn gas into RNG to displace conventional natural gas.

Vancouver began collecting and flaring LFG in 1991 to control odours and greenhouse gas emissions.

From September 2003 to May 2022, Vancouver sold LFG for beneficial use, initially to Maxim Power Corporation (Maxim), and then Village Farms International Inc. in 2014 when it purchased Maxim’s assets, for their combined heat and power cogeneration facility located off property.

Village Farms since converted its East Ladner greenhouse into a cannabis growing operation, called Pure Sunfarms.