Canadian government passes renewable fuels standard

By Jessica Sobolik | July 08, 2008
On June 26, the Canadian Senate passed Bill C-33, which will require the use of 5 percent renewable content in gasoline by 2010 and 2 percent renewable content in diesel fuel by no later than 2012.

Canada's House of Commons passed the bill in late May. After the Senate passed the bill, Canada's Government General Michalle Jean signed it, making it official.

"This is huge in terms of giving the federal government the authority to regulate fuel blending on a national basis," said Gord Quaiattini, president of the Canadian Renewable Fuels Association. "In the past, it's been up to each province, particularly in regard to biofuels. This legislation builds on the leadership that those provinces had, giving the federal government the capacity to move forward on these current targets and go beyond that." Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan have currently enacted RFS mandates, and British Columbia and Quebec will continue to move forward with similar mandates.

The CRFA said it expects the creation of 20 new biofuels facilities to meet this requirement. "We have some plants that are already built, some under construction and some that were at various levels of planning, financing and development," Quaiattini said. "This [legislation] provides market certainty."

Suncor Energy didn't anticipate the passage of Bill C-33, but it certainly came at an opportune time. On June 12, it announced plans to proceed with a CAN$120 million expansion of its St. Clair Ethanol Plant in Sarnia, Ontario. The plant currently produces 200 MMly (53 MMgy) and will double its production to 400 MMly (106 MMgy). According to Suncor spokesman Jason Vaillant, the expansion was planned as soon as the facility began initial production in 2006. "We didn't have the crystal ball to see this was going to happen, but we're certainly glad it did," he said.

There is also the environmental benefit that will result from this legislation. According to Natural Resources Canada's GHGenius life cycle model, the RFS outlined in Bill C-33 will result in a 4.2 megatonne (4 million tons) reduction in greenhouse gas emissions annually, which is the equivalent of removing more than 1 million cars from Canadian roads ever year.

Not only would Canadian producers be able to meet domestic demand, but Quaiattini pointed out that they could also look south to help meet the RFS enacted in the United States. "It also provides opportunities for the United States to provide for Canada," he said. "The bottom line is, it helps to grow the North American market."

Provinces Already with Biofuels Mandates in Place
  • Saskatchewan - 7.5 percent ethanol in gasoline (approximately 131 MMly), enacted in October 2006

  • Ontario - 5 percent ethanol in gasoline; enacted in January 2007

Provincial Renewable Fuels Content
  • British Columbia (Bill C-16 to pass soon)

  • 5 percent ethanol content by 2010 (plus support of the federal plan)

  • 5 percent biodiesel content by 2010 (3 percent above federal plan)

  • Alberta - has not set its own standard as it prefers a national approach

  • Manitoba - 8.5 percent of gasoline content (~130 MMly) as of Jan. 1, 2008. This percentage will start at 5 percent and increase to 8.5 percent in 2008 and subsequent years.

  • Qubec - 5 percent ethanol goal in gasoline by 2012. Expected source to be met by cellulosic ethanol production.

  • Nova Scotia - Doesn't have one for biofuels, but does for electricity, requiring that electricity must come from at least 20 percent renewable content by 2013 (i.e., from wind, tidal, solar, hydro and biomass). Only independent power producers will be able to bid on new renewable projects.

  • New Brunswick - Doesn't have one for biofuel, but does for electricity. Renewable portfolio standard requires 10 percent of electricity must come from renewable generation, including biomass, by 2016.

  • Newfoundland Labrador, PEI - There is interest on the East Coast, but nothing as of May 2008. (NEG ECP Climate Change Action Plan)

  • North West Territories, Yukon, Nunavut - None