Cargill plans power plant at beef processing facility in Alberta

By Lisa Gibson | August 02, 2011

Cargill Inc. is planning a 1.4-megawatt waste-to-energy plant at its High River, Alberta, beef processing facility.

The plant will run on organic waste from the facility and will complement its existing methane gas capture and power generation system, increasing the percentage of renewable energy the processing plant uses to about 80 percent, according to Mike Martin, Cargill’s director of communications. The beef processing waste will be incinerated to create heat that will power the plant’s boilers, Martin added.

“Using existing technology, we will install specialized equipment that will make our High River beef processing facility the most sustainable and environmentally friendly beef processing facility in the world,” said John Keating, president of Cargill Beef. “Recognizing the environmental, agricultural and community value and benefits of this project is a tribute to the Canadian government and its visionary approach to working with business to find mutually beneficial solutions to long-term challenges.”

The Canadian government has provided $10 million (U.S. $10.4 million) to the $36 million project as part of its initiative to help meat processors reduce their environmental footprint. The public-private collaboration for a waste-to-energy project is the first of its kind in North America, according to Cargill, and is the company’s largest waste-to-energy project on the continent.

Martin didn’t release a timeline for completion, but once it’s operational, the plant is expected to eliminate 21,000 metric tons of fossil fuel emissions annually.

The High River beef processing facility employs about 2,000 people who harvest 4,000 beef cattle daily, representing $1 billion in annual cattle purchases and totaling one-third of Canada’s processed beef volume.