The project involves the expansion of an existing biogas-to-electricity facility east of Edmonton, near Vegreville, Alberta. The plant currently uses manure from Highland Feeders to create biogas and green power.

The resulting green energy will be used to fuel a new ethanol production system. The ethanol will be derived from locally grown high-starch wheat.

Under the terms of the agreement, ATCO Midstream will operate the biorefinery and be a part-owner. Grow-Gen Energy of Hairy Hill, Alberta, will be the other owner, along with several investors including a farmer-owned grain procurement partner, Providence Grain Group of Fort Saskatchewan.

Shane Chrapko, CEO of Grow-Gen Energy, said: “This project greens Alberta’s energy basket using our own home-grown, globally patented technology. By linking efficient food production with the growing demand for renewable energy, we are taking a major step forward in improving the sustainability of two key industries in the province.”

According to the companies, the entire process is virtually waste-free. The residual grains that remain after the ethanol is made will be fed to cattle at a nearby feedlot, while biofertilizer, a byproduct of the biogas production, is sold to local farmers and oil and gas drilling companies for soil enhancement and remediation.

The completed biorefinery is expected to generate 40 million liters of fuel ethanol, 10 thousand tonnes of premium biofertilizer and 2.5MW of green electricity each year. Operations are scheduled to commence in mid-2012.