Canadian bill would provide additional biofuel funding

By Jessica Sobolik | January 10, 2008
At the Canadian Renewable Fuels Summit in Quebec City in December, Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz announced a new federal biofuels bill and the details of the federal ecoEnergy for Biofuels program. Both items were welcome news to summit attendees.

The proposed biofuels bill would make the necessary changes in law to ensure that the federal government meets its goal of an average renewable fuel content of 5 percent ethanol and 2 percent biodiesel nationwide. This would result in an estimated 4.2-megaton reduction in net greenhouse gas emissions annually, equivalent to removing more than 1 million cars from Canadian roads. However, the Canadian Renewable Fuels Association, which hosted the event, will continue its efforts to raise the goals to 10 percent ethanol and 5 percent biodiesel, according to CRFA President Gordon Quaiattini.

The ecoEnergy for Biofuels program will invest up to $1.5 billion over nine years to boost homegrown biofuels production. It aims to make investment in production facilities more ideal by partially offsetting the risk associated with volatile feedstock and fuel prices. Recipients will be entitled to receive incentives for no more than seven consecutive years. The program runs from April 1 to March 31, 2017, and will be administered by Natural Resources Canada.

There are other federal programs that aim to spur the Canadian biofuels industry. The ecoAgriculture Biofuels Capital Initiative and the Biofuels Opportunities for Producers Initiative provide assistance to farmers who pursue opportunities in biofuels production. These initiatives are led by Agriculture and Agri-Foods Canada. The NextGen Biofuels Fund offers support for demonstration-scale, next-generation biofuels facilities. It is managed by Sustainable Development Technology Canada, a foundation created by the government of Canada.

The CRFA estimates that 20 biofuel facilities will come on line in Canada in the coming years, creating more than 14,000 new jobs in rural communities and providing a new market for more than 200 million bushels of Canadian grains and oilseeds.