Burnaby waste-to-energy plant to heat entire Vancouver neighbourhood

River District will be the first development to benefit from waste-to-energy heat recovery at Burnaby’s Waste-to-Energy Facility | Photo: Burnaby Now files

A Burnaby facility that turns waste into energy will soon be powering an entire Vancouver neighbourhood.

A new agreement with Metro Vancouver will see River District Energy purchase up to 10 megawatts of heat from Burnaby’s Waste-to-Energy Facility starting in 2025.

“Metro Vancouver is committed to being part of the solution in the fight against climate change, and we are thrilled to partner with River District Energy providing cost effective energy in the pursuit of lower emissions and energy efficient communities,” said Burnaby Coun. Sav Dhaliwal, chair of Metro Vancouver’s board of directors, in a statement.

River District will be the first development to benefit from waste-to-energy heat recovery at Metro Vancouver’s facility. When fully built out, the district energy system will provide heat and hot water for 18,000 residents and more than 500,000 square feet of office and commercial space, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by up to 90%.

“River District Energy has for a decade been supplying affordable, reliable space heat and hot water to the residents of River District. This deal marks the next step in the service we provide to our customers. Almost eliminating our use of natural gas allows the residents and customers we serve to play their part in tackling climate change, while still receiving safe, reliable and affordable heat,” said Malcolm Shield, vice-president of sustainability, Wesgroup Properties.

Metro Vancouver’s Waste-to-Energy Facility handles about a quarter of the region’s garbage and generates approximately 22 megawatts of electricity — enough to power nearly 16,000 homes — which it sells to BC Hydro.

“The City of Burnaby is excited to see this project advance and we look forward to capitalizing on this new infrastructure to expand district energy into Burnaby neighbourhoods in the near future,” said Metro Vancouver director and Burnaby Mayor Mike Hurley. “These are the kinds of innovative solutions we need as we forge a path to a carbon-neutral future.”

In addition to producing electricity, steam from the facility can also be used to heat water for district energy applications, with the potential to save up to 45,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year.

Detailed project design will begin in early 2022. The first phase of Metro Vancouver construction will involve building an energy centre next to the Waste-to-Energy Facility and a pipe system that will deliver hot water to River District. Construction of a Community Energy Centre in River District to receive heat from Metro Vancouver and distribute it to the community will begin in 2023.

The estimated cost of Metro Vancouver’s first phase of the district energy system is $55 million.

Burnaby Now