Canadian biofuels report: Ethanol at full capacity, imports up

By Tim Albrecht | April 20, 2018

Canada recently filed its 2017 annual biofuels report with the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service’s Global Information Network, showing Canadian production is at full capacity and imports of ethanol rose in the past year. The country also plans to introduce carbon intensity benchmarks and a carbon pricing system.

The report says Canadian ethanol production during calendar year 2016 increased slightly by 1 percent to 1.74 billion liters (459.7 million gallons), and production for 2017 is expected to come in around 1.79 billion liters. Production growth was attributed to a change in feedstocks at one Canadian facility and increased capacity at two other plants. Ethanol production is forecast to reach 1.88 billion liters in 2018.

Meanwhile, production capacity has remained relatively unchanged since 2011 as plants have been operating at or near full capacity. That production capacity is forecast to reach 1.97 billion liters in 2018, when additional capacity is expected to come online.

Canadian blending requirements, which require more than 2 billion liters of fuel grade ethanol, continued to outpace production of fuel ethanol in 2016, so the country imported 1.1 billion liters of fuel ethanol. The number of imports expected in 2017 rose slightly to 1.2 billion and is forecast at 1.1 billion for 2018. On average, the U.S. supplies 98 percent of Canada’s ethanol imports.

In December of last year, the Canadian government released its Clean Fuel Standard regulatory framework, moving away from volumetric requirements and focusing on a carbon intensity approach. Under the CFS, separate carbon intensity requirements would be established for subsets of fuels in the transportation, building requirements and industry sectors, according to the report.

As a part of the country’s carbon intensity approach, the government announced a carbon pricing system, which would require all provinces and territories to have some form of carbon pricing plan in place by 2018. In 2019, the federal government will introduce its own carbon pricing system in provinces that don’t have adequate pricing systems of their own.