Canada on pace to meet 2010 ethanol target

(Resource News International) — The pending construction of new plants and the current expansion of existing facilities will allow Canada to meet its 2010 ethanol production target of two billion litres per year, according to an official with the Canadian Renewable Fuels Association (CRFA).

Robin Speer, CRFA’s vice-president of public affairs, said ethanol output in Canada was currently in the 1.3 billion- to 1.4 billion-litre range.

However, he noted that there were a number of plants that were in the process of upgrading capacity that would see ethanol production doubled. A number of facilities were also still in the construction stage and were expected to come on line in 2009.

“If we factor in the upgrades that are currently underway and the bringing on line of new facilities, ethanol production in Canada jumps to an estimated 1.796 billion litres,” Speer said.

A number of projects were also still in the planning stage of development and once the green light was given to move these facilities off paper and begin construction, the two billion-litre target by 2010 was seen as very attainable, Speer said.

Much of the ethanol expansion in Canada has been stimulated by the fact the federal government has brought in several types of incentives to ensure that the country is producing renewable fuels.

The federal mandate of five per cent of renewable fuels by 2010 is helpful, Speer said. That five per cent represents about 2.5 billion to three billion litres of ethanol or biodiesel.

Speer said the provinces can also make adjustments as they see fit. He noted the Ontario government has its own provincial mandate of five renewable fuels. In Manitoba, the province has an 8.5 per cent ethanol standard at present while Saskatchewan has a 7.6 per cent ethanol standard.

Speer said a number of other provinces were also establishing additional renewable fuel standards.

He also indicated that just a few years ago Canada needed to import ethanol in order to help meet requirements. “That is no longer the case,” Speer said.

There are some companies that make the decision to import ethanol, but that is their prerogative,” he said, adding that there are also a number of Canadian companies exporting ethanol, which was something that was not seen a few years back.

Ethanol can be made from a wide variety of biological materials. Agricultural crops, particularly grains, are likely to be used because they have both high productivity and high levels of carbohydrates needed for ethanol manufacture by fermentation. In practice, about two-thirds of each tonne of grain (the starch) is converted to ethanol. The remaining by-product is a high protein livestock feed which is particularly well suited for ruminant animals such as cattle and sheep.

Fuel ethanol can also be made from cellulosic materials such as crop residues (straw, corn stover), forestry wastes (sawdust), municipal solid waste and recycled newsprint.

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