Renewable biogas proposal continues greening of GM powertrain plant

By Paul Forsyth, Niagara This Week.

ST. CATHARINES — It’s a sleek, state-of-the-art facility with gleaming robotics whirring about in rooms that are almost surgically clean, but in addition to cutting-edge technology the General Motors powertrain plant in St. Catharines is also being touted as a model of environmental sustainability.

The latest investment in greening being proposed at the massive plant along the Welland Canal will be a renewable biogas cogeneration project that would utilize landfill gas to make the 2.08-million square-foot facility more energy efficient and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by a whopping 5,000 tonnes a year.

The project, which could be up and running as early as 2018 if approvals are obtained in time and GM decides to forge ahead with it, is part of a major push by GM to dramatically reduce energy consumption, waste production and chemicals at its Canadian plants.

Politicians at the Region on Jan. 11 supported the biogas project in principle and agreed to urge the province to expedite the application process. City of St. Catharines politicians recently did the same.

Tammy Giroux, manager of government relations for GM of Canada, said the biogas project would involve piping treated gas underground from the Walker Environmental Group landfill near Thorold Stone Road to the cogeneration plant. 

The use of landfill gas from the breakdown of materials such as green bin organics, paper and wood may be the first such industrial cogeneration project in Ontario, said Giroux.