Converting poo to power

The power industry can leave one feeling oddly powerless. Almost everyone needs power and many are concerned about its environmental impact, but very few of us have control over how it’s produced.Daniel-Bida

This is why energy analyst and Downtown entrepreneur Daniel Bida started the ZooShare power initiative: an environmentally friendly, accessible alternative to big, faceless power companies. In Bida’s words, “I wanted to create a power investment that would involve a collective as opposed to putting it together with corporations.”

In partnership with the Toronto Zoo, ZooShare (with its headquarters at Richmond and Spadina) has spent the past four years working towards the construction of North America’s first zoo-based biogas plant. Upon completion, the ZooShare plant will recycle the 3,000 tonnes of zoo poo produced annually, along with 14,000 tonnes of food waste, and use it to generate power for the grid.

Bida has been successful in generating a collective. This March, ZooShare reached its $2.2 million fundraising goal after almost two years selling community bonds to over 300 local investors, most of whom are individuals living in Toronto, as well as local retail and institutional investors.

While Bida was confident that ZooShare’s bonds would sell out, he admits that they sold out faster than expected—bringing them one elephantine step closer to putting the power of poo in the hands of their investors.

The plant is expected to begin operations between December 2015 and March 2016. Biogas technology is nothing new.

It has been used to process wastewater for the past 30 years and it has the potential to produce more fuel to do more work.