Canadian Biomass Magazine

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Ontario creates opportunity for boost in agricultural renewable natural gas production


July 6, 2021
By Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

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New regulations have been announced in Ontario to encourage the use of renewable natural gas in agriculture.

The new rules are designed to introduce new ways for farmers to expand the emerging biogas and renewable natural gas market in the province. The plan is designed to create economic opportunities while maintaining the province’s strict environmental protections.

On-farm biogas systems and the expansion of existing systems will be approved more easily and at a lower cost. The changes will also help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by diverting waste from landfills through increased maximum allowable limits and new types of off-farm anaerobic digestion materials (such as food processing waste and source separated organics) and by encouraging production of renewable natural gas.

“By reducing regulatory burden for on-farm anaerobic digesters, we can provide economic solutions to divert more valuable food and organic waste from landfills, while maintaining environmental protections by encouraging the recycling of nutrients and reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” Lisa Thompson, minister of agriculture, food and rural affairs, said. “We’re saving farm businesses time and money to allow them to grow untapped economic opportunities and take advantage of the emerging renewable natural gas market.”

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David Piccini, minister of the environment, conservation and parks, said using farm waste to generate renewable natural gas is a win-win situation for farmers and the environment, giving farmers an opportunity to use materials that would otherwise go to waste.

“Importantly, these changes include new requirements to better safeguard the environment and human health – helping to ensure that economic growth doesn’t come at the expense of environmental health,” he said.

Changes to regulations under the Nutrient Management Act will create more opportunities for farmers to treat on-farm materials as well as other types of off-farm food and organic waste materials in on-farm regulated mixed anaerobic digestion facilities. This will enable an increase in on-farm production of biogas to generate renewable natural gas and will provide Ontario farmers with a new source of on-farm income.

The changes encourage innovation and growth while also maintaining environmental protections through additional requirements for odour control, material handling prior to land application, digester tank design and setbacks.