Blog

We are producing power! ⚡

We began to generate and export power to the Ontario grid on April 1st and reached our 500 kW capacity for the first time on April 12th.  We are now generating revenues from processing food waste into biogas and then generating power.  With COVID-19 restrictions still in place, we are now planning to hold a virtual ribbon cutting ceremony in the summer.  For now, here’s a sneak peak:

Inside the biogas plant digester, about 1,900 cubic meters of organic “waste” is being digested!  The bubbles are the biogas coming up from the slurry.

ZooShare Bonds are Back!

– Earn 5% for 5 years or 5.5% for 15 years

  • This is our first bond offering since 2016.  These bonds will be used to redeem and refinance maturing community bonds.
  • So far, we have sold $2.1M worth of bonds to current investors and people who signed up for our waiting list.  Only 50% of bonds remain!
  • The Offering Statement will expire on June 30, 2021.

CLCK HERE TO INVEST NOW

You can also read our Investment FAQs here.

Welcome Rob, our new General Manager! 

While our Founder and Executive Director, Daniel Bida, continues to be involved at a project level, our new Co-operative General Manager, Rob Grand, is taking over all of Daniel’s co-op related responsibilities: Rob will work with the Board to lead the co-op as we enter this next phase of operations.  

About Rob: Rob Grand is an experienced entrepreneur and business manager with expertise creating, developing, and consulting with successful businesses, social enterprises, and non-profits in the Environmental and Renewable Energy sectors.  Rob has served as a Director and Advisor to more than a dozen organizations including the TD Friends of the Environment Foundation, Green Enterprise Toronto, The Coalition for a Green Economy, and the LFP Foundation. Outside of the office, Rob coaches hockey, teaches skiing, paddles whitewater, hikes trails, climbs rocks, and can often be found with camping gear strapped to his touring bike.

If you would like to introduce yourself to Rob and welcome him to the team, or if you have any questions, please send Rob an email: rob@zooshare.ca

Take a hike!

(Literally, in Rouge National Urban Park.)

Want to see the biogas plant in-person, from a safe distance?  Check out the trail next to the Rouge Valley Conservation Centre (AKA Pearse House) at 1749 Meadowvale Road: There are 3 trails in Rouge National Urban Park, ranging from 1.5km to 3.5km, and the best view of the biogas plant is just a couple of minutes from the trail head! Please note that while we plan to offer supervised tours in the future, the biogas plant is an industrial site and members of the public are not allowed.  Please stay on the trail. Click here for directions and parking information.

Above: Sights from the Rouge National Urban Park.  Please share your photos of the trail and snaps of the biogas plant: #ZooShare and #rougeNUP.  

Construction is Complete!

A Slideshow showing the ZooShare Biogas Plant Being Built Over a 1 year period

2020 has been a challenging year for everyone, everywhere. With a province-wide lockdown announced this week, we are grateful to have a more uplifting announcement of our own to share:

This month, we completed construction of the biogas plant! The site is currently undergoing final inspections, after which we expect to generate power and export it to the grid in late February.  We are tentatively planning a ribbon cutting ceremony for the summer, and will keep you posted as the new year progresses.
Current ZooShare investors have continued to demonstrate strong support and loyalty to our project: we have sold over $1.5 million of new bonds. If you would like to get on the waiting list for new bonds (that earn 5% or 5.5% depending on the term), please sign up here.

With potentially fewer guests around the table for the holidays this year, we encourage you to plan your meals and leftovers: click here for some tips from Love Food Hate Waste. One small silver lining of continued stay-at-home measures is that Canadians are planning more and wasting less food.

Press Release – New Partnership with Oshawa Power

Yesterday, on November 12, 2019, ZooShare met with senior officials from Oshawa Power and The Toronto Zoo to celebrate a newly inked strategic partnership that will make significant Greenhouse Gas (GHG) reductions a reality at the Toronto Zoo. We are joining forces with Oshawa PUC Energy Services (OPUCES), a municipally-owned sustainable energy corporation to complete the final milestone of the Toronto Zoo Biogas Project. This unique collaboration also includes the federal government’s Low Carbon Economy Fund, which will contribute $2.7 million over this phase and a planned expansion of the facility.

Click here to read the full press release.

Photos by Oshawa Power:

 

 

ZooShare awarded $2.67M grant from Government of Canada

We are very pleased to announce that ZooShare has been approved for funding from Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), as part of the Low Carbon Economy Fund.

These new funds are in the form of a multi-year grant, totaling $2.67 million. It will enable us to double ZooShare’s processing capacity from 17,000 tonnes of organics per year to 30,000+ tonnes, doubling our positive impact on the environment.

With this grant in place, we will continue with our plans to complete construction this year and reach commercial operations in Spring 2020. We will also begin planning the facility’s expansion, which includes a second digestion tank, and the capacity to inject renewable natural gas (RNG) into nearby pipelines.

We’re incredibly thankful to the ECCC, and MP Gary Anandasangaree (Scarborough-Rouge Park). Their support will help realize our shared vision of diverting organic waste away from landfills, and using it to produce renewable energy.

We Commissioned Our CHP Unit

We are very pleased to share that on Wednesday July 18th, we successfully commissioned our Combined Heat and Power (CHP) unit and demonstrated ZooShare’s ability to export power to the Ontario grid–thus meeting the final milestone of our Feed-In-Tariff contract! We now look forward to moving ahead with the next phase of construction.

GIF shows images of construction, digging a trench, wearing hardhats, lowering wooden beams and materials with a crane, etc.

We would like to express our sincere gratitude to our partner, Miller Waste Systems Inc., for their incredible dedication to this project. They assisted in completing project designs, securing permits, coordinating vendors and managing the construction work at the site, which required 12+ hour work-days everyday for 3 weeks. A huge, huge thank you.

We would also like to thank the following organizations and partners who assisted us in reaching this milestone:

ANF Energy Solutions
Northern Building Contractors
Powerline Plus
R.A Graham Electrical Contractors
Toronto Hydro
The Toronto Zoo
Total Power Limited

On a sombre note, you may have heard that the Ontario government recently cancelled 758 renewable energy projects, including 15 biogas plants. ZooShare is not among them. While our contract remains in good standing, we support the Canadian Biogas Association’s stance that, “this decision ignores the environmental benefits [of] clean, safe, locally-generated renewable energy and the many economic benefits including sustainable job creation within Ontario farms, agri-food businesses, and municipalities and millions of dollars of investment in local communities.”

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out by clicking the email icon at the top of this screen, or calling the 1-800 number, above.

Thank you,

The ZooShare Team

Daniel, Paul U., Chris, Melissa, John, Victoria, and Paul W.

The Engine Has Arrived!

We are excited to announce that the first piece of our biogas plant has arrived!

A crane holds a large shipping container while men in hard hats and vests look on.

On Wednesday, May 9th, our Combined Heat and Power (CHP) unit, the engine that will generate electricity from zoo poo and food waste, was delivered to the ZooShare site across from the Toronto Zoo.

The unit arrived in two shipping containers from Europe.

ZooShare’s Executive Director, Daniel Bida, was there in-person to meet the delivery.  “It was an exciting moment.  The CHP is an essential piece of our project, and as the first piece of equipment to arrive, it is the first step towards construction,” he said.

Executive Director Daniel Bida stands in the doorway of the shipping container that was used to deliver the ZooShare biogas plant engine.

ZooShare’s Executive Director, Daniel Bida, was there to meet the delivery of the engine that will turn poo into power.

So, how does this engine work?  Combined heat and power (CHP), also known as cogeneration, is the simultaneous production of electrical power and heat.  First, biogas powers the engine, then the engine runs an alternator (an electrical generator) which creates renewable power for the Ontario grid.  The rotation of the alternator also produces heat–and unlike conventional technologies that waste it by letting it float off into the atmosphere–the efficient CHP unit will capture that heat and use it to warm the ZooShare tanks and buildings on site.

The Combined Heat and Power Engine

The Combined Heat and Power (CHP) unit.

The next steps are to connect the CHP unit to the Ontario grid, and then construct the tanks and buildings that make up the rest of the biogas plant.

Make sure to sign up for our newsletter (if you haven’t already) to make sure you are receiving the latest updates from us.  We look forward to sharing our progress with you!

Use the buttons below to share this news on Facebook or Twitter!

May 2018 project update

We hope you’ve been well since we last spoke.  The ZooShare team has been hard at work together with our partners at Miller Waste Systems to move the project forward. Our goal is to work diligently to achieve the Commercial Operation Date as defined by our Feed-in Tariff (FIT) renewable power contract and continue to build and commission the project in the months following. The path forward has unfortunately been complicated due to the fact that we were not successful in either our grant application with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities or our request for low-interest debt from the City of Toronto. Having said that, myself and the Board continue to do everything we can to proceed with the project, as was the direction provided to us by the membership at the 2017 AGM. The good news continues to be that there is a viable path forward due in no small part to the strong support we have continued to receive from corporate partners like Miller Waste & Bullfrog Power.
To update you on the project and our activities over the last couple of months:

  • Worked with our vendor for the Combined Heat and Power unit to ensure we had all the specifications right and confirmed the timeline for delivery.  At this point, it is scheduled to arrive from Europe around May 11th. This will give us sufficient time to connect it and meet the FIT deadline.
  • In relation to the above point, we are actively working with an electrical engineering firm and Toronto Hydro to source the complementary equipment needed to export the power to the grid.  These two organizations, together with Miller and our structural engineers will also oversee the construction activities necessary to connect and meet the requirements of the FIT contract.
  • Building permit applications have been submitted to the City of Toronto and the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority. We expect construction activity to begin on the site in late May.
  • On the funding side, as stated above, we were not successful with the applications made in 2017.  While disappointing and quite unfortunate, we continue to march onwards in the same cautious manner – prioritizing the work and spending that allows us to maintain the FIT contract, at the same time as applying for other grant programs.  In March, we applied to the federal EcoAction Community Grant Program, and this month we will be submitting applications to the GreenON Challenge Fund (provincial) and Low Carbon Economy Fund (federal).  Once these are submitted, we’ll then look to apply for any other programs that may be a fit.
  • Concurrently with this work, we have been working with a prospective lender to complete due diligence and get approval for a long-term loan to replace the Miller construction loan once construction is complete.  These discussions are progressing positively, and we are confident that it will get done by the end of May.

Zooming out a little from the challenges of getting the FIT project off the ground this year, a lot is changing around us.  The upcoming provincial and municipal elections, as well as new policies announced by the Province related to organic waste diversion, should make for an interesting couple of months.

Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions you may have in the meantime.
Thank you for your ongoing support.

Member Update – March 2017

The beginning of 2017 has been about focusing on a few key activities to keep our project moving forward. We continue to make progress, and thank our members for their ongoing patience as we continue to work through the challenges related to completing this project.

Specifically this means:

  • We are very pleased to announce that we’ve extended our relationship with Bullfrog Power, as our Education Sponsor, for an additional 5 years and have been working together to bring on a co-sponsor to further support for our project and educational programming.
  • Working with Miller Waste Systems and our legal counsel to execute on the 4 key agreements that collectively form our relationship. Negotiating and executing all of these agreements simultaneously is complex and time-consuming, but we have made good progress and continue to collaboratively work through the challenges with Miller.
  • We initiated discussions with TREC Education, and an engineer who is volunteering his time, about improving and adding to our educational offering. This will include an update to the in-class workshop, downloadable curriculums for teachers to build their own digesters with students, developing content for signage inside the Zoo and at the biogas site, and building a portable digester to be used as a demonstration in the classroom.
  • We have completed a feasibility study, together with a local farmer, exploring the costs and benefits of locating small storage tanks on the farms in the area and more regularly transporting digestate there throughout the year. The primary benefit of this plan is easier management of materials for the biogas plant and ready access to fertilizer whenever it’s needed for the farmer.
  • And while we’ve been working on the project, the Ontario Government provided some additional information about their Strategy for a Waste-Free Ontario, which included a target to ban organics from landfills in 2022. This ban, which still has a little way to go before being put into action, would greatly increase the amount of feedstock that needs to be disposed of at compost facilities and biogas plants, like ours. The primary impact on our business of this change is that it will provide upward support to tipping fees on a per ton basis, as demand for our services will increase. More information about the Province’s strategy can be found here.

Member Update – December 2016

The past couple of months for us have been all about contracts – editing language, making amendments, coordinating between the parties involved, and getting feedback from our Board.   While we’ve been working on those documents, the Miller Waste team has been working on the designs and narrowing down its list of equipment and service providers.  Everything is moving along nicely and we look forward to closing these contracts in the coming months and beginning construction in the Spring.

The highlights from the last two months included:

  • Received approval from the Toronto Zoo to contract with Miller Waste for the design, construction and operation of the biogas plant.  This included some amendments to our original agreements with the Zoo to reflect the changed market conditions since they were signed in 2012.
  • Completed first drafts and comments on the construction and loan agreements with Miller
  • Initiated discussions with Bullfrog Power about extending our current Education Sponsorship Agreement, and revamping our educational programming in 2017.

Design and Construction

As was communicated in the most recent newsletter, we executed a Term Sheet with Miller Waste Systems Inc. to Design/Build/Finance/Operate and Feed the biogas plant at the beginning of October.  Since that time, we have been working on the language in the various agreements that collectively will govern our relationship during the construction and operations phase of the project.  We anticipate closing these agreements early in 2017.

While this has been happening, the team at Miller has been refining the designs and budgets, and working towards making final decisions for the supply of various equipment and services.  This includes recently completing an Environmental Site Assessment to get a better grasp of the local soil conditions, and initiating an application to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to allow for the use of our digestate as fertilizer at nearby farms.

We are collectively making good progress, and are still on track to begin construction in the Spring.

Bond Sales & Financing

As noted in our previous update, bond sales closed on September 30th.  We don’t anticipate issuing any new bonds in the near future, but will update you if something changes.

We have, however, moved forward with a Long Term Debt provider, and have been negotiating a Term Sheet with them, that we anticipate will be signed early in the new year.  Ultimately, it’s our plan to execute the binding loan documents at the same time that we execute the construction and operations contracts with Miller.

Feedstock

As previously communicated, Miller’s role in the project alleviates the need for ZooShare to seek out and secure high quality feedstock from other producers.  We continue to maintain our relationships and agreements at the current time, and will work together with Miller to bring in any additional waste producers.  To ZooShare, these represent excellent sponsorship opportunities, and we are hopeful of adding at least one additional sponsor to the project in 2017, whether it is feedstock provider or another company working in a related sector.

Co-op Development

Speaking of sponsors, we sat down with Bullfrog Power this past quarter to discuss extending our sponsorship agreement.  Part of this discussion included ways to revamp and improve the educational programming currently offered, as well as planning for the post-start-up phase, which will include additional signage in the Zoo, tours and potentially an annual biogas design challenge for students.  These plans are currently in development, and so we welcome any feedback and ideas.  Please contact us if you’d like to get involved.

We have also been engaged in planning for the co-op’s budget and human resource needs for 2017, both of which are not substantial, as we head into the construction and operations phases of the project.

Member Update – October 2016

The highlights from the last two months include:

  • Bond Sales closed above expectations with a total of $1,154,700 raised.
  • Executed a Term Sheet with Miller Waste Systems Inc. to design/build/finance/operate and feed the biogas plant.
  • Continued progress in securing Long Term Debt, largely as a result of the above.  We received a Term Sheet with an offer to lend from a lender we’ve had a relationship with for a number of a years, and look forward to finalizing the terms of the loan.
  • As a result of bond sales ending, we are scaling back sales and marketing activities significantly, and therefore have been preparing to say goodbye to Frances whose last day will be October 14th.

Design and Construction

We are pleased to announce that we executed a Term Sheet with Miller Waste Systems Inc. to Design/Build/Finance/Operate and Feed the biogas plant.

Miller Waste has been providing composting services to Canadians since 1990. Each year, it processes valuable leaf and yard waste along with food waste from municipal and commercial sources. Miller Waste currently owns and operates four compost sites nationwide and has been increasingly involved in anaerobic digestion projects with its partners, including a recently commissioned organics decontamination facility at its Pickering Transfer Station. Collectively, Miller Waste processes 130,000 tonnes of organics annually.

Miller will leverage what it’s already learned in the sector and work together with equipment suppliers and a local engineering firm to complete designs and construction. As stated in the last update, we are excited to move forward with this relationship as it significantly reduces operating risk for the facility as a result of Miller’s access to and experience managing organics from the commercial sector.

With additional agreements to negotiate with Miller, final design work to be completed and then submitted for building permits, we will not be starting construction until Spring 2017.  This puts us on track to begin operations in Fall 2017.

Bond Sales

Community Bond sales closed on September 30th with the expiry of the Offering Statement.

We attended the usual number of events and markets during August and September, and reminded our many subscribers about the opportunity ending, ultimately helping us to exceed our $1,000,000 goal.  All together, a total of $1,154,700 was raised in this offering.

As noted in the previous update, this was not a simple decision, but it was the right one.  Ultimately selling bonds is a costly and time-consuming way to raise money in comparison to other forms of financing.  With the addition of Miller to the project, avenues that were not previously available to us became viable, and so we decided to shut down bond sales.  This is going to help us conserve cash and save money in the short term, while also allowing the organization to focus on completing the remaining milestones leading up to the Commercial Operation Date.

Feedstock

As stated above, bringing Miller into the project gives ZooShare an experienced operator that collects and manages sufficient volumes of commercial organics to more than meet our needs.

As a result of Miller’s ability to decontaminate and remove packaging, we will still be able to serve the needs of local grocery retailers while collecting market-based rates for the organics it accepts, and also leaving potential for sponsorship revenues to grow over time.

Co-op Development

Sadly the end of bond sales also means the end of our need for a full-time Sales and Marketing Manager.  Frances has been with ZooShare since February of 2014, playing a major role in all of our communications and bond sales over her 2.5 years with the co-operative.  She has personally spoken to almost every one of our members at some point, whether it was answering questions, organizing the AGM, or selling/processing bond sales.  As much as we’d love to keep her on, there simply was not enough work or budget to do so.  Frances’ contributions and presence will be sorely missed, but we know she will be moving on to bigger and better things and wish her nothing but the best. Please be sure to send Frances a note to say thanks before she goes.