Canadian RFS opens doors for new markets

By Bryan Sims | August 04, 2008
On June 26, the Canadian Senate passed Bill C-33, which requires Canada to include 5 percent renewable content in gasoline by 2010 and 2 percent renewable content in diesel fuel by 2012.

In the wake of the landmark biofuels bill, Canada's ethanol industry is actively embarking on a new era to produce sufficient volumes of ethanol—both corn-based and cellulosic—in order to fulfill the new mandate. According to Canadian Renewable Fuels Association President Gordon Quaiattini, the new renewable fuels standard is expected to provide a solid foundation on which producers in the country can expand the existing ethanol market. "We're quite excited about the fact that we now have a national standard that will be brought into effect," he said. "Pursuing larger targets in the future becomes that much easier now that we have a legislative mandate and a framework in place in order to be able to do that."

Currently, Canada produces approximately 246 MMgy of corn-based ethanol, and an additional 124 MMgy is under construction, according to data compiled by BBI International Inc. The federal mandate requires 528 MMgy (2 billion liters per year) of ethanol production using domestic sources and 84 MMgy (320 million liters per year) of biodiesel production. As a result, the CRFA expects the creation of 20 new biofuels facilities to meet this requirement.

Quaiattini added that provincial biofuel mandates should create an even wider market for more energy-efficient ethanol plants that are looking to comply with stringent carbon-reduction standards put in place by provinces such as Ontario, which is moving toward a 10 percent carbon reduction target by 2020.

Three Canadian provinces have ethanol mandates currently in effect: Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Ontario enacted an E5 mandate in January 2007, while Saskatchewan enacted in October 2006 a requirement that at least 7.5 percent of gasoline must contain ethanol. Manitoba enacted a requirement in January that starts with 5 percent renewable content in gasoline and increases to 8.5 percent in subsequent years.

Meanwhile, Canada's largest ethanol producer GreenField Ethanol Inc. has partnered with Enerkem, a Quebec-based leader in the gasification and synthesis of biofuels from municipal solid waste and forest residues, to build a production plant in Edmonton, Alberta. The first stage of the project calls for construction of a 10 MMgy facility that will utilize Enerkem's gasification, sequential gas conditioning and catalysis technology.

Calgary, Alberta-based CR Fuels Inc. has obtained all of its key permits for the development of an integrated biofuels complex in Strathmore, Alberta, where it plans to build a 25 MMgy ethanol plant and 30 MMgy biodiesel plant on the same site. Construction is scheduled to begin in March 2009, according to CR Fuels President and Chief Executive Officer Gordon Hart. "Even if there wasn't a mandate, there should be a desire for this product because of our limited carbon dioxide footprint and the way we've put this package together, although the national mandate definitely helps," he said.