Canada-based EverGen has raised $ 65 million to advance renewable natural gas infrastructure in the country. The company’s co-founder and CEO, Chase Edgelow, spoke to Waste360 about the company’s growth to date, the vision for the future and the evaluation of projects. Edgelow also looks back on EverGen’s interesting partnerships indigenous Municipalities.
Waste360: Share how EverGen broke into this space and how you are progressing.
Edgelow: EverGen was created to address two critical sustainability issues: finding better ways to manage organic waste to reduce emissions, and finding ways to meet the increased need and demand for clean energy. When we launched our platform in early 2020, we were fortunate to have (in the early stages of COVID with travel restrictions) gathering some of the top minds in the industry with a combination of organic processing and RNG [renewable natural gas] Industry expertise and have been growing steadily since then.
We were listed as an “EVGN” on the TSX-V in August of this year and are ready to grow further by expanding our existing facilities and adding projects across Canada. To date, we have raised over $ 65 million and now have three operations, including the Fraser Valley Biogas Project, which was the first in British Columbia to produce RNG. Ultimately, our goal is to close the renewable energy infrastructure gap in Canada.
Waste360: When it comes to renewable natural gas, what is unique about the renewable energy landscape in Canada?
Edgelow: In Canada, we can build the infrastructure with the certainty of long-term contracted revenue. This differs from the US model, which relies on carbon credits, the pricing mechanism of which is difficult to predict. What is unique about this landscape and industry in Canada comes from what we see as a really strong tailwind for our business: the strength of Canadian regulated gas utilities in providing long term purchase agreements for energy from these RNG projects.
Waste360: Can you describe your assets and your first platform in Canada?
Edgelow: We own and operate three facilities in British Columbia. Two of them are existing biowaste processing plants, in which we see the possibility of expanding the infrastructure and expanding the plants in order to be able to produce RNG. We also own the province’s original RNG facility, which has been producing Fraser Valley biogas in Fortis BC’s pipeline network for over a decade.
We initially dedicated ourselves to solving these problems in Canada. We are headquartered in Vancouver, BC and have built a strong presence here. In addition, we are working and evaluating projects nationwide where we see an opportunity to replicate what has been successful with our existing assets. We process over 100,000 tons of organic waste annually in our existing facilities and are significantly expanding this capacity. EverGen is committed to expanding our network to meet the needs of waste producers and utilities in other provinces. Our relationships with dozens of community, commercial and agricultural partners are vital to us.
Waste360: As far as I know, you are evaluating projects in Alberta, Quebec, and Ontario. How do you decide which projects to evaluate?
Edgelow: We consider projects according to a defined catalog of criteria. What we particularly like about these jurisdictions in Canada is that they have many of the same dynamics that we see in British Columbia that allow us to reduce and “infra-infiltrate” risk. This means that there is a significant opportunity to invest in renewable infrastructure to add more sophisticated operational flexibility to the existing projects in our space. In general, when evaluating projects, we assess the project size, scalability, potential risks and returns, among other things.
Our ultimate goal is to further expand our presence and to close the gap we have between the existing infrastructure and what is required to achieve the stated goals – both on the waste management side and on the renewable energy side – close.
Waste360: Please discuss your acquisition of RNG producer Fraser Valley Biogas in Abbotsford, BC.
Edgelow: This is a project that we have had in mind for a long time. Our team, including our COO Sean Mezei, has a deep historical understanding of the RNG space as it has been involved in over 80 RNG projects worldwide. What we saw at Fraser Valley Biogas was an undercapitalized project with immense potential for a very strong expansion project. We knew that with our technical know-how, our operational management and our investments we could increase the productivity of this plant considerably.
Waste360: Canada uses only a small fraction of its available RNG, according to the Canadian BioGas Association. How much money, labor, and time will it take to upgrade the infrastructure to fix this?
Edgelow: It takes environmental, social and governance oriented companies that are genuinely committed to understanding the technical aspects of these projects and have unique experience in this area. We need companies that have built up the know-how in-house to develop RNG projects. This is a huge opportunity that only a few companies can take advantage of because they are in the right place at the right time and have the necessary know-how.
Waste360: How important is your relationship with the community? How do you get involved in First Nations communities?
Partnerships are extremely important to our business, whether they are partnerships with large provincial gas utilities, municipalities or companies to process their waste. Or work with local farmers to provide organic fertilizers and soil. We partner with communities like the City of Vancouver that have ambitious circular economy and zero waste goals. Together we will be able to rethink what is possible by converting everyday food waste into energy and reducing the carbon footprint.
The partnerships we are most proud of are those with ours indigenous Municipalities. Our focus here is on promoting reconciliation, which often includes supporting economic sovereignty through partnerships and job creation. On our Sea to Sky Soils project in Pemberton, we have a long-term partnership with the Lil’wat Nation to exist as one of the largest employers in the community and further their nation’s economic goals by operating on leased land. We are committed to a committed workforce, over 80 percent of which is indigenous. And work with the Squamish and Lil’Wat Nations to provide professional training and growth opportunities that are good for the environment.