Ontario Biogas System Update: Feed-In Tariff, Regulated Mixed Anaerobic Digestion Facility Rules and Renewable Energy Approvals
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Many biogas projects in Ontario are under construction or are operational, in part with funding through the former Ontario Biogas Systems Financial Assistance Program and incentives offered through the Feed-In Tariff Program. There are a variety of provincial policies and regulations to assist in the development of other biogas projects. The information below outlines the current opportunities and key rules for biogas systems, summarizing the basic components and details of the programs, policies and regulations. Please refer to the original source materials for more in-depth information.
The Independent Electricity System Operator's (IESO) Feed-In Tariff (FIT) Program was developed to encourage and support greater use of renewable energy sources of varying sizes and technologies. FIT offers eligible participants a guaranteed price for electricity generated from different renewable energy technologies, for projects larger than 10 kilowatts (kW) and generally for projects up to 500 kilowatts. Prices offered depend on project type and are designed to allow project developers to recover costs and a reasonable return on investment. For current pricing, refer to the latest version of the FIT Price Schedule.
There are many details associated with securing a FIT contract. Visit the FIT Program website for program details regarding eligibility and approvals requirements.
Several important factors related to the FIT prices:
Eligible projects are ranked using a system of priority points. Those with the most priority points are most likely to secure a FIT contract. Project ranking is important, as the IESO can only contract up to the allotted capacity for each application window. A number of other conditions, including the ability to connect to the grid, also need to be considered. For complete details, visit the FIT Program website.
For proposed biogas electricity projects generally larger than
500 kW, there is a Large Renewable Procurement (LRP) process - please
see the Independent Electricity
System Operator's LRP website for details.
There are three routes to having biogas systems approved to receive off-farm feedstocks in Ontario:
There is no formalized approval mechanism for non-electricity biogas
systems using only exempt wastes, such as agricultural waste, although
many construction and safety rules and regulations continue to apply.
Environmental Approvals to Mix Manure and Food Waste in a Biogas System at a Nutrient Management Regulated Mixed Anaerobic Digestion Facility (RMADF)
The RMADF rules were expanded in 2013. They were developed jointly by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) and the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) to support manure treatment. The rules allow the mixing of off-farm feedstocks in manure-based biogas systems. An approved biogas system at a farm is permitted to mix up to 50 per cent of certain off-farm feedstocks with agricultural feedstocks. Of the agricultural feedstocks, at least 50 per cent by volume must be manure. There are three types of feedstocks:
RMADF rules also specify a variety of design and operation requirements. Changes made to the RMADF process in 2013 include:
The RMADF process for biogas projects has many advantages:
Farms that are operated under the RMADF rules are exempted from the REA process (described below), but will typically have to comply with OMAFRA's Minimum Distance Separation (MDS) Formulae if they are located at a livestock facility. The formulae provide specific setback distances of biogas systems from residential or other sensitive uses. Non-livestock biogas systems approved under RMADF have to meet new setbacks established in the regulation.
The REA process for biogas systems classifies the biogas systems into three categories based on the type of input material and location.
Systems approved under the RMADF process and biogas facilities processing non-regulated waste on farms that are subject to a Nutrient Management Strategy are exempt from REA.
REA outlines the process for:
Under REA, the approval document may specify operating criteria such as minimum retention times, operating temperatures and record keeping requirements. Allowances for non-renewable fuel content, financial assurance requirements and other operating criteria for the biogas system are also considered through the process.
The REA process is typically used for biogas systems in one or more of these situations:
Class 1 and 2 biogas facilities are required to notify the public about the project as part of the REA approval, but are not required to hold public meetings. Class 3 biogas facilities are required to notify or consult with local municipalities (lower and upper tier), local authorities, Aboriginal communities and the public.
There are financial assurance requirements for Class 2 and 3 biogas systems. A Financial Assurance is a tool used by MOECC to ensure there are enough funds for clean-up costs associated with a project in case of a significant issue. Get more information about Financial Assurance Guidelines from MOECC's website. For Class 2 biogas systems, the financial assurance is limited to the removal and disposal of non-exempt wastes (such as off-farm feedstock materials) at the facility.
In summary, there is a comprehensive set of policies, programs and rules in place that have positive implications for biogas developers in Ontario:
For more information:
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