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Highmark Renewables

Highmark Renewables was set up by Vegreville’s Kotelko family to develop a process to recover usable bio gas from the mountains of manure produced by livestock feedlots.

The company is a natural extension of the family business; the Kotelko family has farmed in the area since the 1940s, and operated Highland Feeders, a large cattle feedlot operation, since 1976.

Highmark Renewables has plenty of source material for the manure conversion project; Highland Feeders is one of the largest feedlot operators in Alberta, with a static capacity of 36,000 cattle.

Mike Kotelko, one of the owners of the feedlot operation, is also the project manager of Highmark Renewables. Kotelko told an agriculture industry magazine that converting the manure from feedlot operations into energy, fertilizer and other products had a lot of potential as an extra income source for farmers. Kotelko also noted that as energy costs rise, the economic opportunities for renewable energy improved.

The project has attracted interest from a wide range of government and industry agencies; Highmark’s partners include Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, Sustainable Development Technology Canada, the Government of Alberta, the University of Alberta, CETAC-West, the Alberta Research Council, Flint Energy Services, and cattle producers Nolan Cattle Ltd., Rick Paskal Farm, Thompson Livestock Co. Inc., and Cor Van Ray Farms Ltd.

The Alberta Research Council (ARC) has provided much of the research expertise behind Highmark’s project, Xiaomei Li, a senior research scientist with the ARC’s
Environmental Technologies Business Unit, developed the manure utilization system in use at Highmark’s pilot plant.

Highmark Renewables received a 2005 Emerald Award, a prestigious environmental citation, in the small business category.

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