Canadian government orders biofuels study

By Holly Jessen | January 04, 2010
Posted Jan. 13, 2010

The Canadian government wants a study on the environmental implications of biofuel production in that country.

Environment Canada, the governmental department overseeing environmental affairs, has solicited companies to complete an assessment of the ecological footprint of biofuel production facilities in Canada. The contract is for $65,000 and the expected completion date is March 31, 2010.

"The commissioning of this study does not presuppose that there are any harmful effects from these facilities," a spokesperson for Environment Canada told Ethanol Producer Magazine in an email, "nor does it change the Government of Canada's commitment to renewable fuels."

Environment Canada hopes the study will provide information on the environmental implications of biofuel production in Canada in a more comprehensive and detailed way. The report will:

    List all biofuel plants operating in Canada
    Provide real data from at least 10 ethanol and biodiesel facilities
    Summarize the data, identifying trends and possible benchmark targets

According the request for proposals, Canada's emission model points to the potential for significant greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions from renewable fuels.

"Liquid biofuels were initially viewed as an overall environmentally beneficial alternative to traditional hydrocarbon-based liquid fuels," the document said. "However, recent studies in the United States suggest that this might not always be the case."

Enviroment Canada's scientists need more information and, most importantly, they need it from a Canadian context. The study will help them understand the environmental performance of biofuels, the document said. That performance is expected to vary, depending on the type of feedstock used, processes, scale of operations, location of the facilities and use of the co-products.

The Canadian government, an Environment Canada spokesperson said, is following through with its commitment to establish regulations for renewable fuels in the fuel supply. Those regulations are expected to be published in the early part of this year, as part of the Government's broader Renewable Fuels Strategy to reduce GHG emissions.

"The strategy requires 5 percent renewable content of gasoline by 2010," the spokesperson said. "Canada also intends to implement a requirement for 2 percent renewable content in diesel fuel and heating oil by 2011 or earlier subject to technical feasibility."