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World’s largest wastewater energy transfer project underway for Toronto hospital

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Vince Gasparro, Vancity Community Investment Bank, Dennis Fotinos, Noventa Energy, Ed Rubinstein, UHN, Ron Swail, UHN, Abbas Chagani, Enbridge Gas, Cynthia Hansen, Enbridge Gas, Stephen Condie, Noventa Energy and Ehren Cory, Canada Infrastructure Bank. Photo Credit: Canada Infrastructure Bank

With a major investment now secured through the Canada Infrastructure Bank, approximately 90% of heating and cooling requirements for the Toronto Western Hospital will soon come from what may be the world’s largest raw wastewater energy transfer project.

The $42.9-million retrofit project will use the Huber ThermWin System and Noventa IP to transfer thermal energy to and from wastewater flowing in the mid-Toronto interceptor sewer to provide low-carbon heating and cooling to the hospital.

Delivered by Noventa Energy Partners, the new system will supply 1.8 billion kilowatt-hours of low-carbon energy from raw wastewater to the hospital over the next 30 years, project officials said.

The project will also reduce the hospital’s carbon dioxide emissions by 250,000 tonnes – the equivalent of taking over 1,800 cars off the road yearly.

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“Financial institutions have a critical role to play in financing the transition to a low-carbon future. It will take many tools to reach net-zero and public and private collaboration will be crucial,” announced Vince Gasparro, VanCity Community Investment Bank’s managing director of corporate development and clean energy finance.

VanCity is investing $15.3 million in the project, while the Canada Infrastructure Bank has committed up to $19.3 million in subordinated debt for the build. The project’s equity partners include Noventa and Enbridge Gas, with the University Health Network making a capital contribution. The Government of Canada is also providing a grant under Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Low Carbon Economy Fund.

Germany-based Huber SE describes its system for wastewater heat recovery as based on the principle that “actual heat exchange as well as all other necessary process steps do not take place inside the sewer but outside or in above ground installations,” the company explained.

According to Noventa, the adaptability of the Huber ThermWin System allowed developers to work with the City of Toronto to design a large plant below the city street to house the self-cleaning Huber RoWin heat exchangers and a large wetwell around an existing vortex chamber to house the Huber RoK4 XL units that sieve the wastewater.

Ryerson University will be working closely with Noventa and the University Health Network to conduct ongoing research, surveillance and wastewater sampling on the raw wastewater energy transfer project.

“This new wastewater project in Toronto is a great initiative that focuses on the need to address climate change in our everyday lives,” said Toronto Mayor John Tory. “I want to thank everyone involved in this project that uses innovative technology to help lower our carbon emissions. My hope is that the success of this project will see us implementing similar technologies and initiatives across the city as we continue to meet our climate change goals,” added Tory.

Construction began last month on the wastewater retrofit.

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