Friday, June 01, 2007

Homegrown Canadian Fuel

The biodiesel industry has received a boost from some favourable government policies. In fact Sturgeon County may end up being home to a commercial-scale plant.

Editor’s Note: Ian Thomson, mentioned in this article, is one of the presenters in the sustainable development stream of this year’s Annual Conference Professional Development Program. The conference, the Annual General Meeting and related activities take place April 25-28 in Calgary at the TELUS Convention Centre and the Fairmont Palliser Hotel. Mr. Thomson is president and co-founder of Canadian Bioenergy Corporation. He also serves as president of the Alberta Biodiesel Association and the British Columbia Biodiesel Association, and he sits on the Mayor’s Climate Leadership Council in Vancouver. Before Canadian Bioenergy, Mr. Thomson was a strategic consultant to organizations such as Cargill, Chevron, Duke Energy, Petro-Canada and United Technologies.

The biodiesel industry in Canada is gearing up in response to recent federal and provincial policy developments. Mandates for renewable content in diesel fuel, producer incentives, and project funding for the development of renewable alternatives to petroleum diesel - these have combined to give the industry renewed vitality.

Canadian Bioenergy is a Vancouver company planning a canola-based biodiesel production plant in Sturgeon County, near Edmonton. Since 2004 Ian Thomson, its president, has been leading the drive for a domestic biodiesel industry in Western Canada.

The company has been working with various groups in the biodiesel value chain, such as the Canola Council of Canada, to ensure the necessary framework is in place. This framework will need to have Canada growing, producing and selling renewable fuel in Canada - rather than importing the finished product from a subsidized U.S. market.

Made with renewable resources such as vegetable oils and animal fats, biodiesel burns cleaner than fossil fuels. It can be blended at any level with petroleum diesel for use in existing diesel engines and fuel injection equipment, without them being modified. Under a complete lifecycle analysis, biodiesel achieves significant reductions in both greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution.

Last December, the federal government announced a minimum five per cent renewable content in Canada’s transportation fuels, with an additional two per cent average renewable requirement in diesel fuel by 2012. The government recently complemented this measure in the 2007 budget by introducing a producer’s credit of up to 20 cents a litre.

B.C. has extended even greater support in its provincial energy plan, calling for a five per cent biodiesel requirement by 2010. Other provinces are expected to follow.

Right now, only two biodiesel facilities at commercial scale are in operation. Canada’s domestic production capacity will increase substantially over the next five years to meet the forecast annual demand of 700 million litres under the federal and provincial mandates.

Following the federal budget of March 19, Doug Hooper, CEO of Canadian Bioenergy, applauded the federal government for its willingness to create a Canadian biodiesel industry. Mr. Hooper said: “A producer’s credit comparable to the one in the U.S. is one of the last key steps needed for us to build a domestic biodiesel industry.

“We’re showing the rest of the world that Canada is ready to take a real leadership role in lowering greenhouse gas emissions and improving the quality of the air we breathe. And we’re going to do it with fuel grown and produced at home.”

Canadian Bioenergy’s preliminary annual production plans are for 114 million litres of canola-derived biodiesel and about 10,000 tonnes of glycerine. Canola is an excellent feedstock for biodiesel production, with proven fuel attributes demonstrated by over a decade of on-road use in the European Union. These include superior cold-weather performance, which is a critical issue in the Canadian climate.

The Sturgeon County refinery would be designed so its capacity could be doubled to meet future demand. At the proposed initial scale, the biodiesel refinery would meet about 20 percent of the Government of Canada’s annual biodiesel production target of 500 million litres by 2010.

Canadian Bioenergy has established effective relationships with petroleum distributors to ensure that high-quality biodiesel is widely available to government, commercial and industrial fleets. The company currently operates terminal locations in Vancouver and Calgary to supply custom biodiesel blends for more than 20 large fleets throughout B.C. and Alberta.

The emergence of made-in-Alberta plans to reduce emissions from oil sands operations will mean greatly expanded demand for Canadian Bioenergy products. The location of the plant, in concert with the company’s integration with petroleum distributors, will make it attractive to large diesel users in Northern Alberta.

In addition to its beneficial fuel properties, the kind of biodiesel made from canola – methyl ester – is a versatile non-toxic, biodegradable chemical. It has a variety of uses in lubricants, solvents, release agents, and additives for drilling mud packs.

Canadian Bioenergy is leading research into expanded industrial uses of methyl ester, as well as the byproducts created in its production such as glycerine and fatty acid oils.

[Note: Original article from:]