Report: Strong potential for biofuel industry in Atlantic Canada

By Erin Voegele | September 06, 2013

The Atlantic Council for Bioenergy Co-operative, in partnership with BioAtlantech New Brunswick, has released a report demonstrating a strong business case for the development of a biofuels industry in the Atlantic region of Canada.  The report, titled “Fueling the Future: Atlantic Canada’s Bioenergy Opportunities Project,” specifies that biofuel production in the region could generate $1.5 billion in gross domestic product (GPD), $273 in tax revenues and nearly 10,000 jobs after only 5 years of operation.

According to the report, the Atlantic region of Canada would have to produce more than 250 million liter of ethanol and 75 million liters of biodiesel to meet its renewable fuel mandates. However, the report states that production potential is significantly greater as regional feedstocks, such as sugar beets, could be used to produce fuel to meet the U.S. renewable fuel standard (RFS) volume requirements.

The report states that Gardner Pinfold Consults Inc. was contracted to develop a tool—the Atlantic Biofuels Feasibility Model—that producers and lending agencies could use to analyze prospective ethanol and biodiesel projects. The model is designed to help assess the financial viability of projects based on six factors, including feedstock type, plant scale, pre-construction and construction costs, financing, operational costs and revenues. Up to six plants can be evaluated simultaneously.

Gardner Pinfold Consults also assessed the economic impact of developing a biofuels section in the region, quantifying direct and spin-off impacts. Economic impact results were determined for GDP, employment, income and tax revenue. The report breaks down the results for plants located in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.

The report describes four primary recommendations to help drive the development of a regional biofuels industry. First, the authors recommend that the Canadian government continue to finalize and implement renewable fuels regulations, and that the Maritime Provinces adopt complimentary provincial renewable fuels legislation. Second, the report recommends that a government capital assistance program for Atlantic Canada be implemented, creating the opportunity for equity investment by regional feedstock producers. In addition, the report states that New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island introduce a corresponding and complimentary provincial capital assistance program. Third, the report encourages the government to introduce a production incentive program for qualifying regional producers and that the provinces of the Atlantic Canada region create a complimentary production program initiative. Finally, the report calls for the establishment of a regional working group comprised of industry, government and academic representatives.

A summary report and link to request the full report can be accessed on the ACBC website.