If you dreamed of investing in energy made from giraffe droppings and bruised bananas, ZooShare could be a sweet-smelling opportunity.
After two years of preliminary work, the biogas co-operative held an “official launch” alongside animals at the Toronto Zoo recently, where it could have a working digester built and running by the end of next year.
“Everything up until now was selling the idea. As of today, the investment opportunity is available,” executive director Daniel Bida said in a later interview.
By early January, the co-op had already sold bonds to “founder’s club” of 25 members willing to put in more money and earn and higher rate of return for a higher risk.
This month, the province told ZooShare it could sell community bonds, which are $5,000 each and have a fixed seven per cent annual return for seven years.
Bida said the co-op needs to raise $2 million in order to start the biogas plant, but hopes to sell enough bonds to pay for most of the $5.4-million project, which will turn 3,000 tonnes of zoo animal manure and 14,000 tonnes of grocery store waste into enough power for 250 homes.
The plant will also produce about 3,000 tonnes of marketable fertilizer each year, and stop 10,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide from escaping into the atmosphere, the amount produced on roads by 2,100 cars, he said.
In July, ZooShare received a 20-year Feed-In-Tariff (FIT) contract from the Ontario Power Authority to sell power from the plant to the grid.
The project, which Bida said is the first community-owned biogas plant in Canada, is still waiting for approval from Ontario’s environment ministry.
The digester would be at the zoo’s current composting facility on the east side of Meadowvale Road. Neighbours haven’t expressed any concerns, and the project has the support of the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, which owns the land, Bida said.
ZooShare is also backed by the zoo itself, which will receive 10 per cent of the co-op’s annual earnings, about $1.3 million over the 20-year contract.
“The Toronto Zoo is proud to not only be a partner in the Zooshare initiative, but also a provider in the form of ZooPoo,” Joe Torzsok, chairperson of the zoo’s board of management, said in a statement Friday, Oct. 11.
ZooShare also announced a partnership with green energy retailer BullFrog Power, which Bida said will help the co-operative deliver biogas education in schools around Ontario.
The grocery chain supplying the food waste has not been named.
More on the biogas project and the community bond offering is at www.ZooShare.ca