Quebec's Fonds de solidarité FTQ has set out to invest $100 million in the province’s bioenergy industry through a limited partnership that will focus on biomethanization and renewable natural gas (RNG) projects.
The limited partnership, named Fonds de solidarité FTQ Bioénergie, will support the development and operation of bioenergy projects and will start by acquiring three Quebec bioenergy startups.
Fonds FTQ Bioénergie will be led by Normand Bélanger, the former president and CEO of Fonds immobilier de solidarité FTQ.
Janie Béïque, the president and CEO of Fonds FTQ, told SustainableBiz the idea for Fonds FTQ Bioénergie was conceived when she took the reins two years ago. The labour investment fund’s Vision 2026 plan aims to invest $12 billion in sustainable endeavours by 2027.
Fonds FTQ had $17.8 billion in asset as of Nov. 30, 2022.
“That was an important shift with what we were doing. We’re concerned about not only retirements and the fact that people need a roof, but we were concerned about everything about climate change. And then we said, ‘Ok, we have lot of capital. What can we do that would make significant impact and would help meet our climate change targets in Quebec?’ ” Béïque said.
Reasons for the RNG investment
Fonds FTQ opted to invest into RNG because Quebec has a goal of comprising its natural gas mix with at least 10 per cent RNG by 2030. With projects being built to meet that target, there are many companies in need of expertise and funds that Fonds FTQ can provide.
Carl Gilbert, an investment director at Fonds FTQ Bioénergie, said the investment helps companies move away from fossil fuels to a renewable source that promotes a circular economy. By processing biowaste and converting it into RNG, it is prevented from decomposing in landfills and emitting greenhouse gases like methane, a very strong pollutant.
The RNG will be produced and sold to Quebec’s natural gas distributors.
The three acquired companies
To start, Fonds FTQ Bioénergie has purchased three Quebec-based RNG companies.
The first is Centre de traitement de la biomasse de la Montérégie (CTBM), a firm that operates an organic waste recycling facility. CTBM processes more than 180,000 tonnes of material per year from the industrial sector, which is transformed into RNG and organic fertilizer.
“They know how to work with the community to make sure that it is well accepted, well integrated. They know how to work with the farmers,” Béïque said. “This is a proven concept. We want to be able to replicate this formula.”
The second is CTBM’s subsidiary, Qarbonex, an engineering firm that specializes in supporting RNG projects through its biomethanization process.
The third is Solucycle, a company that manages and recovers food waste from supermarkets, restaurants and hotels using robots. The waste is transferred to a watertight tank and transported to a biomethanization site for conversion into biogas.
Béïque said Fonds FTQ Bioénergie wants to build projects close to farmers and natural gas distributors – because long distances increase the cost and carbon footprint of transporting natural gas.
The second step for Fonds FTQ Bioénergie is to develop projects for the industrial sector, a large consumer of natural gas.
What's next for Fonds FTQ Bioénergie
After acquiring CTBM, Qarbonex and Solucycle, Béïque said approximately $70 million for Fonds FTQ Bioénergie remains. The funds will be used to support other RNG companies and projects, or further support the initial acquisition companies if needed.
Once it reaches its spending target, the “recipe” for the fund can eventually move into other fields such as forestry biomass, Béïque said.
If the fund proves successful in Quebec, Gilbert said Fonds Bioénergie could operate across the rest of Canada.