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Waste-to-energy: Edmonton signs deal to have garbage burned for power at new $300M facility

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The City of Edmonton has reached a deal with the local arm of a Norwegian company to have garbage from Edmonton households burned to create electricity.

The city announced the agreement with Varme Energy in a press release on Wednesday afternoon.

The 15-year deal will see roughly 150,000 tonnes of residential waste processed every year at a facility northeast of Edmonton once it is built and opened in 2027.

"This alternative is expected to limit landfill use, lower regional greenhouse gas emissions, and reduce the carbon impact of our operations," said Denis Jubinville from the City of Edmonton.

In an interview with CTV News Edmonton, Varme Energy Canada's CEO said burning garbage this way is better for the environment than shoving it in a landfill and has become popular in Europe for that reason.

"We are displacing the methane at the landfill and capturing our emissions for sequestration, making the energy we produce carbon negative," Sean Collins said.

"We get very motivated by the benefit to the environment of these projects."

The exact location is not yet public but the company's website lists a future project in Alberta's Industrial Heartland near Fort Saskatchewan.

The facility still requires several government approvals, but Collins is promising his plant will be a good neighbour.

"There's no smell that escapes the facility, based on intelligent design to ensure that there's no air transfer from inside the facility to outside," he said, adding that the footprint of the plant will be much smaller than renewable energy projects.

"In Copenhagen, their waste-to-energy facility is called Copenhill. They built an integrated ski hill on top of the waste-to-energy facility…you can literally ski down the exhaust stack."

Construction of the $300-million facility is expected to create about 250 full-time construction jobs and 25 permanent ones.

Collins said the city will pay Varme to get rid of the waste, which he believes will be at a lower overall cost than putting it in landfills.

The Edmonton-area facility will be the first of its kind in Alberta, Collins said, but Varme would like to build four or five more plants in the area in the future.

The City of Edmonton will continue to sort and process compostable and recyclable at its waste management centre.

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