Canada passes renewable fuels standard

By Jessica Sobolik | June 17, 2008
Web exclusive posted July 1, 2008 at 11:26 a.m. CST

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 MichaŽlle 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."
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